Post-Metapolis: Strategies against urban sprawl - Paris as a case study.
The end of the 20th century was accompanied by a crucial evolution of the metropolitan structure. The form of a dominant urban center surrounded by a significantly less powerful periphery gradually transitioned towards a hybrid, metropolitan model that the French urban sociologist and philosopher François Ascher calls, ever since 1995, “Metapolis”. According to Ascher, “Metapolis” is defined as a mesh of urban clusters with strong interconnections between them. The historic center is now considerably less dominant and the discontinuity of the rapidly expanding urban fabric suggests the phenomenon of urban sprawl. Alternatively introduced as “Postmetropolis” by Edward Soja, the metropolitan structure characterized by uncontrolled urban expansion has serious implications not only on the socio-economic milieu but also on the cities’ geography and the way it is both inhabited and perceived.
Within this framework, the first part of this book constitutes an analysis of the evolution of the phenomenon of urban sprawl around Europe in the period between the Modern Movement and the beginning of the 21st century. The research examines the social and economic context of each period together with their implications on the city’s morphology. The impact urban sprawl had on the metropolitan fabric is analyzed through three distinct lenses: the social and economic effects, the effects on metropolitan geography and administrative boundaries and finally, the effects on the urban imaginary and the observed, fragmented experience.
In the second part of the book, the research focuses on the city of Paris as a case study. The appearance of urban sprawl within the fabric of the French capital approximately dates back to the aftermath of May ’68. Indeed, as cartographic analysis proves, the Metropolitan Region of Paris, ever since 1968, has been increasingly expanding independently of its administrative boundaries, the Île-de-France region. On an attempt to strategize a response to the uncontrolled expansion of the metropolitan territory, in 2008 the French government calls for urban consultations on the future of the French capital in a horizon of forty years. The research concludes the second part with a critical analysis of the strategies introduced by the 2008 consultations on the future of Greater Paris.
Ultimately, in the third part of the book, the research explores how other cities around the world could benefit from the example of Paris in order to address the uncontrolled, metropolitan expansion in a sustainable way. A set of design and planning strategies at the regional scale are therefore here introduced, that begin to define a new system of urban growth capable of fighting space-related inequalities and contributing to a sustainable future.