I have been staying in Mumbai since my birth. But I am still struggling to try and understand the nature of cities. Thousands of questions rise in my mind every day. What is a city? How did it come into existence? Why do we need cities? Keeping in mind todays pace of globalization, will the city disappear or will the whole planet turn into a vast urban hive?
According to what I have learnt so far cities are a complex system of people, environment, infrastructure, transport networks, governance and services together. Cities throughout history have been the central hub of activities which has led to increase in migration in the cities all over the world including Mumbai. This increase in density in the cities have rendered the urban space incapable of satisfying the needs of its citizens. This is the start of all problems. This is the point from when our graph of development has stopped progressing and we are still termed as a DEVELOPING COUNTRY.
The need for cities in earlier times aroused so that people could have a sense of security, their community could be better defended (particularly if surrounded by a wall and other defensive structures) and served the needs of people to make their living in a world where transportation and communication moved at a very slow pace. But these reasons do not stand valid in today’s context as defense has moved far beyond the town wall and transport and communication has become very fast, varied and convenient. So now the question is why do we need cities today? If a remote village can get the almost same facilities as the main city center one doesn’t need to live in the center to participate in an activity.
The incapability of an urban space to suffice the needs of people has now led to decentralization. Edge cities are formed around the main city. These edge cities have become a larger magnet to the metropolitan area.
In olden times, people used to live behind their work places. Then as transport developed people started travelling to their work places and now, again people are saturated of travelling to work which has led to the new culture of ‘ Work from home.’
Now is the need to seek a reciprocal relation between these smaller and larger units, based upon each performing the sort of task for which it is uniquely fitted.
The visible city then becomes the indispensable place of assemblage for those functions that work best together when they are superimposed within a close range. A place where meetings and encounters and challenges, as between personalities supplements and reduces again to human dimensions. 1
- The city in history – Lewis Mumford