A New Paradigm for a New Dimension
P. Ortiz1,2 and A. Contin3
1. International Metropolitan Institute, Madrid, Spain
2. International Metropolitan Institute, Washington, DC, USA
3. Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
The Metropolitan Fact
Urban growth addresses a new age phenomenon, which started in the second half of the twentieth century: the rapid growth of the urban population and especially the explosion of the largest urban agglomerates, metropolis, and megapolis. The definition of metropolis or megapolis is not yet well defined nor accepted. Scholars have focused on two approaches: quantitative and morphological. The quantitative perspective (Eurostat, 2016, 2020; UN-Habitat, 2020) defines megapolises as systems that have reached ten million-plus inhabitants. Currently, there are about 25 megapolises, depending on how they are measured. The threshold definition of metropolises, however, has been discussed in more depth. The most commonly used is the 1 million inhabitants threshold: a simple figure, which has historically been linked to the fact that for 5000 years only, three cities had reached that figure (Rome, Beijing, and London).
Today there are 500 metropolises, and the house almost 25% of the world's population. Nevertheless, the demographic increase and the new dimension of inhabited areas have introduced theoretical problems that have not yet been overcome. The management of these new urban realities is also problematic due to the fact that the unitary management of the city of the past is no longer viable.
An operational definition of the complexity achieved should take into account a very varied combination of geographical and historical elements, which makes it impossible to propose a purely quantitative definition (Fig. 1).
In terms of the morphological approach, and for the sake of a standard procedure that can be applied to research, scholars tend to conceptualize metropolises as large conurbations: urban continuums that have reached a significant size. The problem with this definition is that the real metropolis extends far beyond the border of that continuum. UN-Habitat has recently published a map of this conflict (Fig. 2).
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