Bertaud has worked all around the world from Yemen to China and his experiences, particularly in places that were transitioning to market economies, lend an interesting perspective.
I like this bit on designing in China:
I quickly realized that if you do not have prices to guide you, you end up relying on arbitrary norms. For example, in China, the central government decided that every home must have one full hour of sunshine each day. So you would plug in the height, latitude, and angle of the sun at winter solstice for your site, and that would formulaically spit out the permitted density of housing.
And I like the comparison he makes between food and housing supply:
I compare it to food: You can’t solve a famine by simply mandating that everyone eat 2,000 calories a day. That’s absurd. You have to bring in more food. In the same way, cities like San Francisco have to increase the supply of floor area, and let consumers determine the size of units.
So I just ordered a copy of his book.
For the rest of his interview with CityLab, click here.