New Geographies 08 Island

Beyond the Limits of the City: Urbanizing TerritoriesMilica Topalović

How might we investigate the problematic of planetary urbanisation from the viewpoint of architecture and urbanism? How might we conceptualise architecture and urbanism as disciplines whose boundaries extend beyond the limits of “the city?”

Nowadays, urban researchers tend to focus on cities and at the expense of wider productive territories. That cities now house more than half of the world’s population is a well-established cliché, provoking both foreboding over the dawn of an “urban age” and celebrations of the “triumph of the city” over the countryside. But what if we reverse this perspective: what if we adopt a territorial approach instead of the city-centric view? Since cities cover only two percent of the world’s surface, what if we were to also focus attention on the remaining 98 percent? As cities grow and transform, territories are undeniably pulled into the same vortex of urbanisation. This suggests that revisiting the relationship between cities and wider urbanising territories from this perspective might prove interesting. Understanding the dynamic of urbanising territories—of productive landscapes, natural areas, countrysides, and hinterlands—might even prove central to understanding cities and urban sustainability.