Planning for balance

TRACK 2: Besides the megacity and other cities

congress team:  Tathagata Chatterji, India & Fedor Kudryavtsev, Russia190501 tracks small 04


 Role and future of cities that aim for balance rather than limitless scale in the global race towards agglomeration advantage

Alternatives to the megacity through regional networked urban clusters

The megacity backside: shrinking settlements, disappearing villages and other similar externalities

Planning for spatial balance: rural-agrarian productivity, wildlife and urbanisation equilibrium of metropolitan areas

Neither urban nor rural: emerging lifestyles, urban forms and economics beyond megacities


This track explores alternative themes beside and beyond the megacity: one explores the paths of cities that aspire to being influential, but also aim for balance and perhaps containment (to provide an alternative model where there is less pressure and life is more balanced). 

The other looks at aspects of the regions around megacities: the hinterland and its rural towns, which play an essential role supporting and providing resources to the megacity, sometimes being left behind by the economics and policies of large urbanisation, and sometimes reaping the benefits of nearby growth, prosperity and innovation. 

Are megacities the only option? What would be the future role of secondary or non-global cities? Can they only be subservient or irrelevant? How to strengthen economic roles of smaller cities as counter magnets – to generate more job opportunities closer to home and reduce population pressure on megacities? How does megacity expansion transform the countryside and their own hinterlands? How can megacities and peri-urban areas develop a synergetic and maybe positive relationship? How is rural development providing spaces and resources for city dwellers? Does it make sense to invest and modernise agriculture around a megacity and reinvent the rural into a new model?


Session 2.1 Beyond Megacities: Key Challenges and Alternatives

Discussions under Track 2 broadly explore two key areas – the contemporary urbanisation context under which the megacities, their scale economies and their regional linkages are embedded, and what the possible alternative spatial models are. These two broad themes then lead to more detailed explorations around seven sub-themes. This introductory session, involving keynote speakers from all the sub-themes would touch upon key challenges and alternatives in planning at a regional scale and lead to further deliberations under specific sub-topics.  

Session 2.2 Megacities Backside: Peri-urban Interface

Peri-urban interfaces of dynamic metropolitan regions are spaces which are forever in a state of flux, where land use patterns and built forms frequently undergo rapid change, where urban and rural land livelihood and lifestyle patterns coexist, often within a person's everyday routine. Hereunder this sub-theme, we not only explore some of the complexities involved in peri-urban transformation, but also seek to understand how megacities and peri-urban areas can develop a synergetic and perhaps positive relationship.

Session 2.3 The future beyond megacities: Indonesian new capital and XXI century urbanisation

Discussions under the theme would revolve around the possibility of the Indonesian capital moving out of Jakarta. We would like to deliberate on alternative scenarios. What are national level planning strategies regarding mega-urban regions? What could be a 21st century capital be like? Is it necessary for capital functions to be co-located in a single urban centre? Or is it possible to envision that capital functions and government departments could be dispersed to a constellation or a network of different small towns connected by smart technologies? And why do countries still need capital cities as it was thousand years ago despite all digital maze of our days?

Session 2.4 Urban Expansion and Food Supply: Megacities Resiliency

Rapid expansion of urban footprints-often in unplanned chaotic ways-are harming our ecosystems and green covers; fertile agricultural lands are shrinking; wetlands and waterbodies are depleting. This sub-theme explores how we can manage urban expansions more sustainably. We shall discuss how to implement global sustainability goals through local processes. What are the linkages between peri-urban agriculture and urban sustainability goals? Does it make sense to invest and modernise agriculture around a megacity and reinvent the rural into a new synergetic model?

Session 2.5 Managing Megacities and Hinterlands Relations – Planning at a Regional Scale 

Megacity – hinterland relations are often seen as one-way traffic, where market advantages of agglomeration economies dictate flows of population and material resources. Here we question how we can bring greater balance through innovative regional planning strategies. How do we strengthen economic roles of smaller cities as counter magnets – to generate more job opportunities for rural migrants closer to their home and reduce population pressure on megacities?

Session 2.6 Alternative Models of Spatial Development: Neither Urban nor Rural?

Here we discuss settlement typologies beyond urban-rural binaries. We try to understand what the possible alternative models of spatial development are, and which ones are neither urban nor rural. How to strengthen rural economies, culture and lifestyle, in this age of rapid urbanisation? How do newly planned cities impact existing rural settlements? How are land and environmental conflicts being mediated?

Session 2.7 Beyond Megacities: Role of Mega Infrastructure in Hinterland Development 

Mega logistics hubs, such as special economic zones, container terminals, and ports; and network infrastructure, such as railway corridors and highways anchor global supply chains in megacities. But how do such mega-infrastructure projects shape regional settlement patterns and backward linkages? How do they shape industrialisation and urbanisation processes?

Session 2.8 Metropolitan City and Its Shadow Regions 

Megacities and global metropolitan regions often tend to cloud our imagination through the sheer magnitude of their scale, their glitz and glamour, and their deprivation and squalor. Needless to say, megacities dominate and overshadow their hinterlands. Here, we seek to shed light on such shadow regions. We ask what it means to be a shadow region.  Can life be good in the shadow of the megacities? How does megacity expansion transform the countryside? What are the conflict points and how are they being negotiated?