Conceptual Cluster 1: Relations and Agency

by fgowino

Harvey, 2008 recognizes the role played by urbanization and high population growth rate in the absorption of capital surpluses. In restructuring the urban system, it is the poor and those marginalized from political power who suffer most. Literature has it that in 1900, 10 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities, which 100 years later had risen to 50 per cent of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants living in cities. By 2050 it is projected that nearly 70 per cent, of a global 10 billion population will live in cities.

Urbanization and economic growth has increased pressures on the natural resources thus resulting to pollution of the natural systems, reduced quality of the environment and deteriorated environmental health. This supports the fact that we live in an era when ideals of human rights have moved centre stage as observed by Harvey (2008). Green Social Theory espouses a philosophy and an ethical underpinning that should influence the formulation of environmental planning and management of fragile ecosystems. As a philosophy, it is embedded in the emerging sustainable development paradigm.

Howard who was a utopian thinker, studied the on-going debate on urban growth and environment and developed the idea of a ‘garden city’. He wished to combine the best features of town life and country life in a new form of urban settlement, “the garden city”. He conceptualized the garden city as comprising a compact settlement of about 1,000 acres of about 1.5 miles diameter with a large agricultural land surround of about 5,000 acres. This was to be a green belt to control the growth of the town. Zoning would then be carried out within the town to give industrial, commercial and residential activities. Public buildings and places of entertainment were to be in the centre. He and his supporters founded two English cities, Letchworth (1903) and Welwyn (1920), which still serve as models for his ideas. He envisaged his Garden City as a tightly organized urban centre for 30,000 inhabitants, surrounded by a perpetual “green belt” of farms and parks. Howard had three points to contribute to modern urban planning: that towns have to be controlled in real growth: that towns have to be controlled in population: and that towns should integrate urban living and agricultural activities. From the Howard model, it can be seen that a strong environmental control interest in urban development was evolving. Most of our cities do not take this into account. As a result, urbanization and economic growth has increased pressures on the natural resources thus resulting to pollution of the natural systems, reduced quality of the environment and deteriorated environmental health.

References

Awan, Nishat, Schneider, Tatjana & Till, Jeremy (2011) “Introduction” Awan, Schneider & Till (Eds.) Spatial Agency. Other Ways of Doing Architecture, Routledge, London

Harvey, David (2008) “The Right to the City” New Left Review 53, September October 2008, 23

Petrescu, Doina (2012) “Relationscapes: Mapping agencies of relational practice in architecture” City, Culture and Society, 3 (2012) 135-140