The New Landscape: Urbanization in the Third World

The New Landscape: Urbanization in the Third World

The New Landscape: Urbanization in the Third World by Charles Correa discusses uniqueness of urbanization in the Third World. It offers suggestions on channeling urbanization by incorporating vernacular elements such as incrementality and open to sky spaces. It asks the architects to become change agents to create the new urban landscape.

The New Landscape: Urbanization in the Third World
Charles Correa (1930-2015)
A Mimar Book/Butterworth Architecture, 1989, 119 pages

The Urban Landscape

The term landscape takes on new meanings in this book. It refers to urban patterns at wide-ranging scales, from the scale of a neighborhood to that of cities, regions and the world. The forces that continually alter the landscape in the Third World are the forces of urbanization.

Uniqueness of urbanization in the Third World

The uniqueness of urbanization in the Third World calls for indigenous solutions. In contrast to the urbanization patterns of industrialized nations, where migration occurred due to the attraction of cities, people in the Third World migrate to cities because the rural areas where they come from simply cannot support them. Such migration is identified as distress migration.

Distress migration in the Third World
Distress migration in the Third World 1

Self-help housing

These migrants bring an acute sense of tradition and craftsmanship to the cities. As they build their new lives in the cities, they rely on good will, mutual help, and personal experience in shaping their communities. The author proposes to use the aspirations and skills of migrant population by encouraging them to build their new homes with vernacular elements, such as incrementality and open to sky spaces. The resulting housing would be simple and appropriate and yet surprisingly different from the masonry and concrete structures built by the public housing agencies.

Cities with multiple centers

The author discusses the poly-centered system of American cities, which seem to have all the advantages of a metropolitan city without the problems associated with them, as an example of a possible option for emerging cities in the Third World.

Architects as change agents

The New Landscape, calls for active involvement of architects practicing in the Third World to lead the way. Such architects are currently preoccupied with projects for the elite, and are merely watching the physical degradation of cities around them due to rapid urbanization. The author feels that these architects need to enlarge their role and use their special skills as architects to reimagine the urban landscape to accommodate the migrant population.

Urbanization in the Third World
Urbanization in the Third World 2

Limits of broad-stroke approach

What seems to be missing in the book is a discussion on ways to implement urbanization policies. It is also not clear whether the author’s broad-stroke approach would be widely applicable to specific contexts in the Third World that are characterized by diverse cultures and geographies.

An important book on urbanization

The New Landscape, with its bold, provocative, and confrontational arguments, is a remarkable revelation of the inner workings of Mr. Correa’s mind that guided him throughout his successful career. This book should become an important addition to the collection of books on urbanization in the Third World.

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