Index of papers Phil Gyford: web | email
Spring 2000
World Futures

Urbanism Framework Document


PDF version


Information sources
Current Conditions
Expected future
Potential wildcards
Issues, dilemmas, choices
Key uncertainties
Alternative futures
Leading indicators


People have been moving towards towns and cities from the countryside in great numbers for the past two centuries. While it's far from a new trend, there is as much uncertainty as there ever has been. Our roads are overcrowded, our cities are polluted, and more and more unspoilt land is being turned into sprawling housing and shopping developments. There are many factors that could change the future shape and character of our cities, some under our control and some not.

This document mainly concentrates on the situation in the US. The problems faced by many of the cities in the developing world are completely different in scope and character, with their total population expected to grow by two billion over the next thirty years; Mexico City, for example, has grown from a population of 100,000 to 20 million in less than a hundred years. However, many of them are attempting to follow a similar path to that taken by American cities, with a concentration on the use of private cars and, where land allows, the division of land into large suburban plots.

There are also many factors affecting cities that are not covered by this framework including public health, global environmental concerns such as rising sea levels and atmospheric temperatures and the generation of waste. While these are vast and important problems (for example, Tokyo is estimated to dump 20 million tons of waste every year), this document concentrates more on the form and structure of the environment in which we live.

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Index of papers Phil Gyford: web | email