One: Introducing Jigsaw cities

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This chapter sets out the scope of the study and looks closely at urban and housing history, current dilemmas, and the urban future. It uses the metaphor of the jigsaw to capture the complexity and interconnectedness of modern British cities as it responds to powerful social, economic, and environmental forces. It explains that beginner jigsaws like early cities have few pieces and easily assembled shapes while advanced jigsaws have thousands of small and distinct but hard to distinguish pieces. It notes that modern cities are likewise hugely complex and sometimes seem to defy any order at all, often appearing as a confusing pile of indistinct spaces, structures, and functions – chaotic and unmanageable. The chapter focuses on growth and decline, sprawl and density, economic and environmental imperatives, racial tensions and social harmony.

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