From slum to suburbia : examining a spectrum of planned and unplanned urban morphology in humid sub-tropical regions of the world
Marriott, Michael, Guaralda, Mirko, & Lawson, Gill M. (2012) From slum to suburbia : examining a spectrum of planned and unplanned urban morphology in humid sub-tropical regions of the world. In (Ed.) Portuguese Network of Urban Morphology 2012, 5-6 July 2012, Instituto Universitário De Lisboa, Portugal. (Unpublished)
The current rapid urban growth throughout the world manifests in various ways and historically cities have grown, similarly, alternately or simultaneously between planned extensions and organic informal settlements (Mumford, 1989). Within cities different urban morphological regions can reveal different contexts of economic growth and/or periods of dramatic social/technological change (Whitehand, 2001, 105). Morpho-typological study of alternate contexts can present alternative models and contribute to the present discourse which questions traditional paradigms of urban planning and design (Todes et al, 2010). In this study a series of cities are examined as a preliminary exploration into the urban morphology of cities in ‘humid subtropical’ climates. From an initial set of twenty, six cities were selected: Sao Paulo, Brazil; Jacksonville, USA; Maputo, Mozambique; Kanpur, India; Hong Kong, China; and Brisbane, Australia.
The urban form was analysed from satellite imagery at a constant scale. Urban morphological regions (types) were identified as those demonstrating particular consistant characteristics of form (density, typology and pattern) different to their surroundings when examined at a constant scale. This analysis was correlated against existing data and literature discussing the proliferation of two types of urban development, ‘informal settlement’ (defined here as self-organised communities identifiable but not always synonymous with ‘slums’) and ‘suburbia’ (defined here as master planned communities of generally detached houses prevalent in western society) - the extreme ends of a hypothetical spectrum from ‘planned’ to ‘spontaneous’ urban development. Preliminary results show some cities contain a wide variety of urban form ranging from the highly organic ‘self-organised’ type to the highly planned ‘master planned community’ (in the case of Sao Paulo) while others tend to fall at one end of the planning spectrum or the other (more planned in the cases of Brisbane and Jacksonville; and both highly planned and highly organic in the case of Maputo). Further research will examine the social, economical and political drivers and controls which lead to this diversity or homogeneity of urban form and speculates on the role of self-organisation as a process for the adaptation of urban form.
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