Published by Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at University of Greenwich, London

Wider than Metropolis – new city form


Last week new winds has shaken urbanism theory. Widely known urban geographer Edward W. Soja presented ‘The End of the Metropolis Era‘. Following Ed Wall’s overview I give more personal reflections on the lecture.

Firstly, we should understand processes shaping the city. City is an agglomeration of people, who shear expenses, and being in close proximity cause catalytic conditions for technological innovations, cultural creativity and economical growth. So it is clear that high population density is desirable for a successful city. And here a classical form of city- metropolis – is applied as a further development model. Auto-dependant suburbs are pushed out of interest zone while all effort are concentrated to mono-centric development. Infinite investments, grow and constantly rising  ‘icons’ are expected in inner city but how far we can go? At some point mono-centric urban core becomes unable to cope with increasing pressure of globalisation, polarisation and rising social confrontations as a consequence. High-tech and high finance era coming to an end where creative industries and cultural cities emerging.

E. W. Soja presents concept of regional urbanisation and claims that  a shift from metropolitan to regional thinking is needed. The process we are experiencing now, surprisingly, started in 1960s, when American cities like Los Angeles and Detroit experienced explosive growth of suburbs and urban decline in inner city. Then centralised metropolis as a city format failed. Only now this process is being recognised between professionals. Modern metropolis as a city format does no longer exist, thinks E. W. Soja, – it only might be an interim stage of newly developing agglomeration but not as a final state.

Polycentric networked city regions are replacing the metropolitan structure and form. Cities should no longer have defined boundaries as they already are a part of global networks, affected by multiculturalism and hybridities. Visual qualities are wrongly identified as driving power but more important is a network of invisible processes. Under these conditions landscape architect’s role is to create missing links / spaces and program these future processes rather than build any aesthetic values. 

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