In The Post-Urban World

This new book edited by Tigran Haas and Hans Westlund from KTH is a collection of interesting and somewhat oblique essays on the urban world we have entered. Lot of people you know writing here. Ed Glaeser, Richard Florida, Patrick Adler, Rahul Mehrotra, Felipe Vera, myself, Hans Westlund, Paul Knox, and Richard Sennett – and that is the first part. And then in two more parts: Jessie Poon, Wei Yin, Kaisa Snellman, Jennifer Silva, Carl Frederick, Robert Putnam, Kyle Farrell, Tigran Haas, Fulong Wu, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp, Edward Soja, Fran Tonkiss, Laura Burkhalter, Manuel Castells, Saskia Sassen, Susan Fainstein, Emily Talen, Michael Neuman, Nadia Nur, Nina-Marie Lister, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman. You can get a sneak preview using some Google Gizmo that is attached to the site.

In the last few decades, many global cities and towns have experienced unprecedented economic, social, and spatial structural change. Today, we find ourselves at the juncture between entering a post-urban and a post-political world, both presenting new challenges to our metropolitan regions, municipalities, and cities. Many megacities, declining regions and towns are experiencing an increase in the number of complex problems regarding internal relationships, governance, and external connections. In particular, a growing disparity exists between citizens that are socially excluded within declining physical and economic realms and those situated in thriving geographic areas. This book conveys how forces of structural change shape the urban landscape.

In The Post-Urban World is divided into three main sections: Spatial Transformations and the New Geography of Cities and Regions; Urbanization, Knowledge Economies, and Social Structuration; and New Cultures in a Post-Political and Post-Resilient World. One important subject covered in this book, in addition to the spatial and economic forces that shape our regions, cities, and neighbourhoods, is the social, cultural, ecological, and psychological aspects which are also critically involved. Additionally, the urban transformation occurring throughout cities is thoroughly discussed. Written by today’s leading experts in urban studies, this book discusses subjects from different theoretical standpoints, as well as various methodological approaches and perspectives; this is alongside the challenges and new solutions for cities and regions in an interconnected world of global economies.

Cities, Environment and Sustainability


Hegel once said that ‘everything is connected to everything else’ and in our world of cities, this seems ever resonant with the problems that we face. Danny Hillis and Neri Oxman have called this the Age of Entanglement and in this workshop, myself, Susan Hanson from Clark University and Billie Turner from ASU as well as colleagues from the Chinese University,  Hong Kong University and the Baptist University explore how we develop themes that are wide and diverse and seemingly far apart but in fact are close in that we cannot explore one without the other. The title of the workshop centred around environment and sustainability and how cities are at this interface is a superb example of entanglement. Drill down here for the topics that will be/have been presented at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday 11th April 2016.

The Circular Economy


The new book from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation contains a series of articles on cities and the built environment that relates to renewability and regeneration in terms of energy, information and new ways of conserving both physical and human resources. I have a chapter here on cities where I examine how we might think about circularity of resources use within the city arguing that we need to generate a renewable infrastructure with respect to how we move between places in the city. To break the non renewable cycle generating ever more urban growth we need to generate a balanced city structure in which our movement patterns are supported and sustained by resources that are self-generated. This probably means a shift from non renewable fuels but ti does not necessarily mean the end of urban growth for it the system is sustainable, then cities can begin to grow in a balanced way. Besides changing our use of energy we may substitute it with information and that probably means autonomous vehicles that use much less energy (but still some) but focus on how best to move using information as a key resource. Anyway what I walk about is rather speculative but it is all part of our new concern for the fact that new urban forms will emerge as we move towards a circylkar economy, with the age-old link between form and functions – which is breaking anyway in the information age – becoming significant in very different ways from the past.

There are lost of other interesting articles in this book and let me list them

  • Circular business opportunities for the built environment—Ellen Franconi, Brett Bridgeland
  • The renewable energy transition—Insights from Germany’s Energiewende-Patrick Graichen and Markus Steigenberger
  • Towards a regenerative food system — Martin Stuchtey and Morten Rossé
  • Ecosystems as a unifying model for cities and industry— Michael Pawlyn
  • The circular economy of soil— L. Hunter Lovins
  • Remanufacturing and the circular economy—Nabil Nasr
  • Selling access over ownership—Ken Webster
  • Broader lessons from self-organising traffic lights in city transport systems— Dirk Helbing and Stefan Lämmer
  • Challenges and capabilities for scaling up circular economy business models—a change management perspective— Markus Zils, Phil Hawkins and Peter Hopkinson
  • Cities as flows in a circular economy— Michael Batty
  • Circularity indicators— Chris Tuppen