How Politics Influence Settlement Planning (1)
How Politics Influence Settlement Planning (1)...
INFLUENCE of POLITICS on SETTLEMENT PLANNING Increasing unevenness in the distribution of the world's population is caused by growing regional and urban concentration, especially in the 3rd world where high natural increase has been the main factor in the emergence of 4 secondary foci of population concentration in Southeast Asia, Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria and in the frequent polarization of population in large cities. In contrast, patterns of population distribution and settlement in developed countries are much more stable, experiencing a high degree of dynamic equilibrium despite some polarization reversal. Political fragmentation of the world, particularly the skewed areal and population sizes of states, has a major effect upon settlement and population systems. Moreover, variable political structures (unitary/federal states) have a powerful inﬂuence upon forces of centralization and decentralization with commensurate effects upon urban primacy. Too often policies ignore the complexity of human mobility, especially circulatory movements and their interaction with settlement patterns. Technological and socioeconomic changes affect continuously both mobility and settlement patterns, provoking spatial inefﬁciency and inequality. Planners must consider this interaction much more. The government’s land policies also have a lasting effect on settlement patterns. Today many city governments enforce zoning rules, controlling the growth of settlements by allowing people to live in some areas but not others. The governing philosophy in India is and has always been totally different from that in other nations. The National Commission on Urbanisation did comment as under, ”Urbanisation involves two closely related factors. The ﬁrst is the people—work relationship in rural areas, in which land is the essential medium—and which is right now so critically balanced that any addition to the population must inevitably push people out of agriculture into non agricultural occupations. The second is the fact that only urban settlements can offer substantial non agricultural employment and absorb the migrants who are moving out of an agricultural economy”. In this
context, the National Commission on Urbanisation, in setting out its philosophy, stated, “It is from this perspective that the Commission has examined the crucial issues and conceptualised the strategic thrusts needed for the next few decades— without, in any way, questioning or preempting the development and reform which must be carried out with the greatest urgency within rural India itself ”. Thus as early as 1985-88, the very Commission set up to study urbanisation and suggest a long term national policy in this behalf was acutely aware of the fact that rural India itself needs to be strengthened so that there is a continuity and continuum between rural and urban India to the mutual advantage of both. The Commission did suggest urbanisation as a means of siphoning off surplus rural population, but never as a means of actively encouraging migration from rural to urban areas, thus emptying rural India. The urbanisation policy, therefore, has to work in tandem with our policies of rural development. Urban planning and local politics are supposed to work together since planning involves everything that affects the city for good or bad: economic proﬁt or loss, quality of residential life, urban renewal vs. historical preservation, etc. Many actors participate in the urban planning process, including planners, bureaucrats, politicians, entrepreneurs, as well as the general public. All these are mainly concerned about personal, group or institutional interests. Frequently they engage in persuasion, power struggles, and negotiations. Therefore, one must focus not merely on the professional and technical aspects of planning but also on the impact of the involved interests on the planning process and its outcome.
GLOBALISATION AND RELATED URBANISM Urbanism has only a small part to play in the affairs of man. It does, nonetheless, bring together much that is important for society at large: shelter, social function, technology, art, economics, politics, science and more. A series of social, political and economic changes that affect everything from the operation of nations to everyday life come under the collective title of ‘globalisation’. At the end of the Second World War experience of the depression and the holocaust convinced the dominant Western powers that the world economy and the welfare of humanity could no longer be left to the vagaries of nation-states. The creation of the IMF and the World Bank at the BrettonWoods agreement and the establishment of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights, put in place the institutional framework for a global economy and a global political philosophy between 1944 and 1948. This was the foundation of globalisation and both events were based on Western or Enlightenment principles. These principles could not be realised at a global level until the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989. As a consequence, globalisation can appear to be a form of American imperialism. In the short term this seems to be the effect. But the ideology is that of liberalisation, rather than imperial protection and control, and the true liberaliser must acknowledge the possibility of a loss of control over what has been liberalized. Globalisation is a new world order. We do not know its outcome or have a full picture of its nature as we are only in its earliest stages. At this stage, however, it is clearly a Western world order, dominated by north-Atlantic culture and the most evident outcome has been the spread of north-Atlantic products and corporations.
In architecture, the historical development of globalisation corresponded very closely to the ascendancy of Modernism. Founding Modernist ideals had always been global in ambition. By 1932 it had been identiﬁed as the “International Style” and, although this was really a development of “parallel experiments” between nations, it was presented as a “contemporary style, which exists throughout the world, uniﬁed and inclusive.” By 1948, the year the foundations of globalisation were ﬁnally laid, Modernism had so obliterated traditional architecture that it came to be described as simply “modern”. It was based on the ideals of the same Western Enlightenment thinking that informed globalisation: rationality, scientiﬁc innovation, progress and the end of tradition. With globalisation Modernism conquered the earth. For countries swept up in the tide of the global economy, the association of Modernism with rationality, progress and successful and dominant northAtlantic economies was irresistible. Furthermore, the Modernist association with the principal building types identiﬁed with key aspects of globalisation – the corporate office, the airport, the international hotel and the shopping mall – provided a clear symbolic link with the engines of global capital expansion. In a very short space of time the homogenisation of global consumerism had its parallel in the homogenisation of city centres throughout the world. The glass-walled office block has become the CocaCola of architecture.
Globalised commercial architecture has developed a symbiotic relationship with a new breed of global star architects. As cities, more than nations, now compete to attract global investment and global tourism, they seek brand differentiation and symbolic modernity. The commissioning of public buildings by star architects is now an established marketing technique.
Globalisation itself is, however, more complex than the simple expansion of Western capital and concomitant spread of products, culture and style. At the same time, the free movement of global corporations and capital has restricted the ability of the state to maintain an autonomous economy. two poles of modern architecture – supermodernism and the particularity of place – are clear reﬂections of the two poles of globalisation – homogenisation and localisation. The future of both architectural persuasions will be tested in the latest and most urgent global crisis – the survival of the ecology of the planet such that it will continue to support our global civilisation. This is the supreme challenge for globalisation: the cause, the effect and the resolution are and will be global and local. It will affect all aspects of social, political and economic life and it will, as day follows night, have a profound impact on architecture.