Evolving Urban Form: Development Profiles of World Urban Areas

The Evolving Urban Form: Shenzhen


No urban area in history has become so large so quickly than Shenzhen (Note 1). A little more than a fishing village in 1979, by the 2010 census Shenzhen registered 10.4 million inhabitants. It is easily the youngest urban area to have become one of the world's 26 megacities (Figure 1). Most other megacities were the largest urban areas in their nations for centuries (such as London and Paris) and a few for more than a millennium (such as Istanbul and Beijing).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto


Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto is Japan's second largest urban area and ranks as the 12th largest urban area in the world. With a population of approximately 17,000,000 and a land area of 1240 square miles (3200 square kilometers), Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto has a population density of 13,700 per square mile (5,200 per square kilometer), making it the most dense major urban area in Japan and among the denser urban areas in the high income world. The larger metropolitan region includes four prefectures, Osaka, Kyoto, Kyoto and Nara (Figure 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)


Vietnam may be the next China. With a nominally communist government, Vietnam has liberalized its markets and is prospering from an increased reliance on exports. Vietnam's gross domestic product per capita is still only about $3000, but has been among the faster growing economies over the past 10 years. Vietnam is well positioned to capture any growth that might be diverted from China’s east coast urban areas as labor costs there rise and concerns increase about the influence of that country’s powerful state-owned corporations.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Hong Kong


Hong Kong has experienced its slowest decadal growth in at least 70 years, according to the results of the recently released 2011 census. Between 2001 and 2011, Hong Kong added only 5.4 percent to its population, a decline of more than two-thirds from its 1991-2001 rate. Hong Kong's slowest growth rate since 1921-1931 was between 1981 and 1991, when 13.8 percent was added to its population. In previous decades growth had been much greater (Figure 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Moscow's Auto-Oriented Expansion


Moscow is bursting at the seams. The core city covers more than 420 square miles (1,090 kilometers), and has a population of approximately 11.5 million people. With 27,300 residents per square mile (10,500 per square kilometer), Moscow is one percent more dense than the city of New York, though Moscow covers 30 percent more land. The 23 ward area of Tokyo (see Note) is at least a third more dense, though Moscow's land area is at least half again as large as Tokyo.  read more »

Special Report: Census 2011: Urban Dispersion in Canada


Canada now has fastest-growing population in the G-8 (Note 1), according to the results of the 2011 census, released last week. Canada's growth rate from 2006 to 2011 exceeded that of the United States by nearly one-third and is nearly one half greater than just a decade ago. The population rose from 31.6 million in 2006 to 33.5 million in 2011.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Guangzhou-Foshan


The Pearl River Delta of China is home to the largest extent of continuous urbanization in the world. The Pearl River Delta has 55 million people in the jurisdictions of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhuhai and Macau. Moreover, the urban population is confined to barely 10 percent of the land area. These urban areas are the largest export engine of China and reflect the successful legacy of Deng Xiaoping's reforms which had their start with the special economic zone in Shenzhen and spread to the rest of the Delta and then much of the nation.

Adjacent Metropolitan Areas: However, the Pearl River Delta today is not a metropolitan area, as is often asserted. Instead it is rather a collection of adjacent metropolitan areas or labor markets (Figure 1). Metropolitan areas are not created by a large number of people living close to one another. Metropolitan areas are labor markets, crudely delineating the geography of the jobs-housing balance.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Kolkata: 50 Mile City


More than a decade ago, the Sierra Club and I crossed keyboards over urban density. The Sierra Club had just posted a new "neighborhood consumption calculator," that gave visitors the opportunity to look at the purported impacts of various density levels. The Sierra Club designated 500 dwelling units per acre as "efficient urban." Independently, Randal O'Toole and I quickly were on the Internet pointing out the absurdity of such high density.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Quanzhou


Quanzhou? Quanzhou (pronounced "CHWEN-JOE"), despite its urban population that is approaching 5 million this urban area is so unfamiliar to Westerners and the rest of the world as to require an introduction. Quanzhou is a prefecture ("shi") in China's Fujian province. Fujian is just to the north of Guangdong, home of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong's former province (before the British) and just to the south of Zhejiang, the large rich province at the south flank of the Yangtze Delta (which abuts Shanghai). Quanzhou is also adjacent to Xiamen, one of the original special economic zones established by the legendary reformer Deng Xiao Ping.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Delhi


It has been a time of ups and downs for Delhi, which has emerged as the largest urban area (area of continuous urban development) in India. By a quirk in the Census of India definitions, an urban area (urban agglomeration) may not cross a state or territorial boundary. As a result, Delhi continues to be the second largest urban area in India according to the Census of India.  read more »