Magazine article Geographical

Urban Sprawl

Magazine article Geographical

Urban Sprawl

Article excerpt

American author James Kunstler referred to the sprawling suburb as the "geography of nowhere". But nothing better characterises an advancing nation than the rise of the suburb. As societies become increasingly industrialised and their people more wealthy, more of them try to grab a slice of the countryside and head for the newly built suburbs so that they can create their ideal home.

Suburbs have been derided by the gentry, architects and planners but have remained immensely popular with both the people who live in them and those who aspire to do so. They may lack character, community spirit and identity, but outside a dirty city centre, they can be healthy and secluded. However, although they provide space, they encourage people to drive everywhere in their fuel-guzzling cars. Government policies have both encouraged the development of suburbs and demonised them, giving these transitional zones an uncertain status in the 21st century. Developments in the USA, the UK, Asia and Australia are seeing the suburb take on new forms to deal with the demands of a changing population.

In this month's dossier, Chris Edwards examines the history of the suburb, its contemporary role in the UK and how Asia has recreated sprawl in its own image while at the same time borrowing from the Western experience. …

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