Chapter 13 The city of opportunity: designing Cities4People
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Since the early history of mankind, human beings have tried to build settlements that were fit for purpose. In a nomadic or low-technology society human settlements had to be by necessity flexible and small. Large cities hardly existed and were only built to demonstrate or strengthen political and military power. However, even these cities were – compared with current standards – relatively small and their management demanded enormous efforts (for example, import of agricultural produce, fresh water, sewerage systems and jobs for citizens). Cities of more than 1 million inhabitants were, until a few centuries ago, a miraculous urbanistic exception (see Tellier 2009). This situation lasted in most countries until the age of the Industrial Revolution (mid-nineteenth century) when cities started to grow. With the worldwide uninterrupted population growth since two centuries ago (the first demographic revolution), cities went through an accelerated growth path. This has led over the past half a century to a double urbanization process: most cities were growing and became large cities, while several large cities reached the size of megacities (more than 10 million inhabitants). This development is clearly demonstrated in China which currently has more than 60 cities with a population exceeding 1 million inhabitants, while the number of megacities in this country is also showing rapid growth. Worldwide, we witness a megatrend towards more and bigger cities. This revolutionary phenomenon in the history of urbanism is sometimes termed the New Urban World (Kourtit 2019). In the past decade, our world has reached a stage where more people are residing and living in urban areas than in rural areas. This new species of mankind is sometimes named the homo urbanus. The city has become the most attractive settlement place for the majority of people on our planet. The United Nations has, therefore, named this new epoch in the geographic-demographic history of our world the urban century.

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