A Smart Guide to Utopia: 111 Inspiring Ideas for a Better City (Book Review)

A smart Guide to Utopia© Le Content Agency, Barcelona/K-MB

The Weird and Wonderful Guide to Barcelona has always been my favourite travel guide for the city I now live in, and has remained a useful book even for us locals. So imagine my excitement when the same guys from LeCool published A smart Guide to Utopia with 111 inspiring ideas for a better city. This guide is not so much about finding the best view in town or the most unusual tapas, but therefore no less fun. It is the perfect guide for the eco-conscious non-tourist.

Notice the lower cap ‘s’ in the title of the book. smart cars (and ebikes) is the driving force behind this unusual travel guide, based on their previous project smart urban stage. The book presents 111 projects from across Europe that have made a positive, sustainable change to life in our cities.

The ideas in the book are divided into the following categories: Live, Eat & Drink, Buy, Play and Work. Live is about projects like Capital Bee (urban bee farming in London) and Streetbank, a talent and tool sharing platform. Section Work talks about co-working such as The Hub network as well as the HappyLab, a place that facilitated the production of ideas in Austria.

A smart Guide to UtopiaIllustrator Paula Troxler/via

In Eat & Drink you can find a lot of inspiring urban garden projects from London, the Lapin Kulta Solar Kitchen, and other interesting ideas that illustrate the shift from private to collective meals, often based on the seasons. Collaborative consumption and projects like the People’s Supermarket or Unpackaged are featured in Buy.

A smart Guide to Utopia© Le Content Agency, Barcelona/K-MB

The last chapter, Play, is about reinventing city spaces, smart phone apps and art. Here they recommend a visit to Tempelhof, Berlin’s former airport that now serves as an inner city parc, and Fabrique Hacktion who have hacked everyday objects in Paris, so that old phone booths can manually charge your phone and special containers on lamppost encourage people to donate plastic bags for dog walkers.

The only thing I miss is a map, or maybe just an index by city to really make the most of this guide. So far there are only 4000 copies of this book, so if you want one for christmas, hurry up as they are disappearing fast. Grab one online for 24€.

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