Viewpoints: Building Scenarios for Sustainable Urbanisation

Image Credit: Olivia BinaOlivia Bina, University of Lisbon, Portugal & Andrea Ricci, The Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems, Italy

We have demonstrated that we can build meta- and mega-cities, and move seamlessly into city-regions and clusters. We exhibit the capability for spontaneous and/or planned urbanisation. We can build super-tall and ultra-dense. We expand horizontally, reclaiming waterfronts with abandon, and vertically downwards as we explore the endless opportunities that lie underground. We confront new macro-scale challenges with nano-scale techno-scientific solutions, as we embrace the era of the ‘smart’ (Caprotti 2015).

Thus, we create problems of unprecedented complexity, at a speed and scale that place governments and governance mechanisms primarily in reactive (no matter how ‘strategic’), rather than anticipatory decision modes. We tend to discuss and frame the problems and their solutions in politically and ideologically unproblematic terms, preferring to search for means (how to solve problems), rather than question the ends (why is this a problem, indeed, what is the problem?) (Caprotti 2015a ; Ideas At The House 2013). In the words of Specht (2015b): “We are making and remaking our cities over and over without perhaps stopping to ask how or why.”

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