Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries

Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries

Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries

Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries


This collection of edited papers forms part of the Compact City Series, creating a companion volume to The Compact City (1996) and Achieving Sustainable Urban Form (2000) and extends the debate to developing countries. This book examines and evaluates the merits and defects of compact city approaches in the context of developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Issues of theory, policy and practice relating to sustainability of urban form are examined by a wide range of international academics and practitioners.


Mike Jenks


Sustainable Urban Form in Developing Countries?

Sustainable urban forms will only be achievable if they are underpinned by a policy background which commits to global sustainability goals, but leaves room for local formation and implementation of solutions.

(Williams et al., 2000)

The overall aim of this book is to set out some of the debate about the sustainability of cities in developing countries, and examine whether ideas about urban form and compact cities, that have evolved in developed countries, have any real relevance in the context of areas of the world subject to rapid urbanisation. This volume is the third of a trilogy of books about Sustainable urban form. The first, The Compact City: A Sustainable Urban Form? (Jenks et al., 1996), examined the claim that the compact city is a Sustainable urban form (defined below). A great deal of complexity was found, and the book did not conclude with a ringing endorsement of the compact city model, at least as conceived in the context of developed countries. Questions were raised about the extent to which urban form could achieve sustainability. There were benefits in relation to the viability of public transport and saving of agricultural and other valuable land, but there were problems about environmental quality and local acceptance of more compact forms of urban living. The second book, Achieving Sustainable Urban Form (Williams et al., 2000), building on the findings of the first, addressed two questions—what is Sustainable urban form, and how can it be achieved? It was concluded that there was no single sustainable form, but rather a variety of urban forms that were ‘more Sustainable than typical recent development patterns’ (ibid., p.355). These depended, crucially, on the characteristics of an area and the local and strategic objectives (or ‘pathways’) chosen for sustainability. Understanding the impacts of urban form on transport, social issues and the environment required sophisticated decision-making processes that were inclusive and adaptive.

The first two books focused almost entirely on research into and findings drawn from the experience of developed countries. This has left an obvious and significant gap in relation to knowledge about the sustainability of urban form in

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