Headline August 17, 2016/ ''' CITIES-CITIES...&...​CITIES-CITIES '''

''' CITIES-CITIES...&...


In August 1976,  China's capital  -in what the English speakers then called, *Peking*,  was a city of bicycles and earthquake shelters-

Of blue Mao suits and tinny propaganda blaring from the loudspeakers, of poorly stacked shops and farm land reeking of nightsoil. The next month Mao died.

China soon began the reforms that have turned Beijing into a smoggy, traffic clogged but dynamic metropolis. 

Much of Asia  is similarly transformed . Hundreds off millions have lifted themselves out of poverty, albeit at a dreadful cost to the environment.

Cities have mushroomed as farmers have left their lands in droves; birth rates have plummeted. A continent's parents have mostly been confident their children will lead better lives than they have done. 

And, but,  on my hand,  increasingly the world's fastest-growing cities will be African. And those, I dare add, are just so hard to corral. 

Many African countries persist with some form of collective land ownership, which is anathema to professional developers: why buy land that you cannot formally own?

Until farmers are given full rights to their lands, including the ability to transfer legal title, cities are likely to grow in a terrible messy way.

THE SUBURBS OF EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA  -with their well-ordered streets and parks, increasingly  seem like exception to the global rule.

They emerged in strange circumstances: property rights were strong and rural and rural estates were large enough to allow big housing developments.

A few suburbs in the emerging world resemble them. Nuvali, south of Manila, is inspired by Irvine in California; Beijing has even has a development called Orange County. But such clones tend to be for the rich, whereas the whole point of-

*Western suburbs is that they provided middle-class people with the space and privacy once only available to the elite*. 

But before I get more carried away, let me stoke some old fires and pick up the thread:

Though prices have wobbled in the past few years , housing in Hangzhou is expensive. Residential floorspace sold for an average of about  16,000 yuan that is $2,400 per square metre last year, roughly double the going rate in Hefei, a lower-tier provincial capital in Anhui.

As a result, the pressure on land is enormous. Some people in Xiaoshan admit to having built on openland without permission. Knowing that they face the risk of demolition without compensation if enforcement toughens.

So Xiaoshan is not as different from the fringes of Dar es Salaam as it appears. In both, rural areas are turning urban far faster than planners expected, making land use laws seem ridiculous.

Yan Song, who follows Chinese city-planning at the University of North Carolina, says that until recently many Chinese cities were spreading because of administrative and zoning changes pushed by the central government .

These days much pressure comes from below, driven by the desires of mobile people. Urban sprawl is slipping put of the government control.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that Western suburbs emerged fully formed. Willingboro Township, on the edge of Philadelphia  -the classic American suburb that Herbert Gans wrote about in  ''The Levittowners'' still looks much as it did when it was build in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mikwambe  and  Xiaoshan cannot but change drastically over the years. They are opening gambits in a long, unpredictable urban game.  

But, good planning and secure property rights are for sure, going to make for a better kind of sprawl.

To sum, then, I must add that back in August 1976, little suggested that the Asian continent was on the cusp of revolutionary change. The same is true now; but as then-

The riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma that is China could shock us all.  Be that it may,in any form or function  -all new cities of the world must get built with minute, imaginative and superior planning.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and !E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Understanding Chaos '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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