The 500-mile City

img_0975

The rise of globalisation, the development of internet and the culture of connectivity, increased mobility, and above all, the growth of the global city have radically changed the way we think about migration, citizenship and the nation state. Today, these global cities and nation states are transforming in very different ways. While the nation state is declining – not the concept, but the reality – the global city is expanding.

 During the past decade, scientists have compared the data of Facebook users’ place of birth with their current residential address, in order to reveal the top 10 cities that have ‘coordinated migrations’, i.e. the movement of large numbers of people from one place to another. While the concept of Facebook sometimes might be unnerving – Facebook undermines privacy by collecting sensitive personal information and sharing this information to third parties – the enormous numbers of personal data can also give fascinating insights about the world we live in and how it is changing…

article-2529905-1a4e9a1700000578-353_634x357

This map represents coordinated migrations over the world. The map highlights the countries with the largest urbanisation growth between 2000 and 2012, according to data from the World Bank. However, data from China is lacking.

As the data comparison illustrates, today the biggest arrival cities are located in countries that are rapidly urbanising. In these nations, at least 20 percent of the population of one city has moved to another city within a decade. For instance, Lagos in Nigeria has grown 18.6 percent between 2000 and 2012 as a destination city.

Furthermore, the research and analysis by the World Bank foresee that in 2040 there will be more than 30 global cities or bigger urban areas that will be located in-between two or three nation states, mainly in Africa and some in Asia. For instance, in West-Africa, there is a conurbation of 70 million people which is connecting four different nation states. This continuous urban and industrially developed area is stretching over more than 500 kilometres. Thus, a new urban system is created which links the cities, Accra, Lome, Cotonou and Lagos. Lagos is the most populated of these four places, every day 2.000 new people are arriving in this city.

What will be the future relationship between these large global conurbations and nation states? What are and will be the effects of these massive, transnational, continuous urban areas on daily life of inhabitants and on local economies? Can design play a role on many different scales in this urban situation where there is no longer a strong role for the nation state? What are the local effects of the global exchange of urban design and development? And what will be the role of citizenship and belonging in an increasingly interdependent and increasingly widely organised society?

mega-curch-in-lagos
As congregations in Lagos are so large, mass is often held in a series of buildings, some resembling hangars.

These are merely some of the questions we hope to address in our coming Design as Politics programme. Thus, in next year’s graduation studio we will focus on the topic of migration and mobility. This studio is organised with the support of Crimson Architectural Historians, the International New Town Institute and a great number of organisations and institutions that see migration and mobility as one of the defining factors for urbanisation in the near future. Besides, we are planning a new MSC2 Design Studio and Lecture Series about Urban Africa: the 500 Mile City. Also these courses will be organised in collaboration with the International New Town Institute, and a number of international global parties such as the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs, UN Habitat, local universities and development agencies. We will keep you updated!