Friday, September 30, 2011

What is the Optimum Population for a City?

Hong Kong from Western District overlooking Ko...Image via WikipediaAre 20th Century Models Relevant to 21st Century Urbanization? ( Phil McDermott , New Geography, Sep. 23, 2011)

Today’s review article examines the trend toward urbanism world-wide and, in particular, the growth or large mega cities over 5m population. Smaller cities of around 1 m seem to be multiplying faster and offer advantages from an urban planning perspective that are not true for either larger or smaller cities. The conclusion not given but deduced is that the optimum size of a city may be around 1 m.

Key Quotes:

sprawl is a sign of “divided cities”, translating into an increase in the cost of transport, public infrastructure and of residential and commercial development. Moreover, sprawling metropolitan areas require more energy, metal, concrete and asphalt than do compact cities because homes, offices and utilities are set farther apart”

issues of governance.. authorities pay little attention to slums, land, services and transport. Authorities lack the ability to predict urban growth and, as a result, fail to provide land for the urbanizing poor”

“western” cities don’t really feature in 21st century urbanism..In 1950 western cities accounted for 43% of the world’s urban population. This was down to 23% in 1990 and 18% in 2010. UN projections have the figure down to 15% in 2030”

“Cities of under 1 million residents dominate gains, strongly favouring developing countries”

“a tendency for urbanisation to take place in small, dispersed settlements rather than mega-cities”

“Small cities, sub-centres in large cities, and districts of modest scale may be better suited to adaptable and innovative planning and management than large scale, extensive cities with their more centralised, remote, and inevitably bureaucratic political and administrative systems."
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