At more than 500 pages, it is a big book that Garth Falconer presents us with. This is hardly surprising considering that a comprehensive work on urban design history in New Zealand has been missing. Falconer’s approach to the topic is well reflected in the book’s title. The notion of ‘paradox’ echoes the challenges and tensions the author encountered while scratching off the thin layer of paradisiac veneer that has been wilfully and often strategically applied to this newest of New World countries. His critical deconstruction of utopian and social visions that accompanied the first settlements uncovers those exploitative and profit-driven processes that have dominated the comparably short but eventful history of urban development in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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