Cities and the Destruction of Human Identity

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The next 20 to 25 years will see unprecedented growth in the size and scale of our cities. The year 2007 marked the first time in history that those living in an urban context outnumbered those living in rural environments; by 2030 this will reach a staggering 5 billion (or 70 per cent) of the world's population. The world stands on the brink of cities facing societal collapse, chaos and conflict. Architecture has always been considered to reflect its political, economic, social and cultural context; nowhere is this more evident than within the city. A call to democratize environments in line with a new global political ethos seems to favour a notion of non-identity as our cities become increasingly homogenized to meet the needs of diverse populations. Conflict theory contends that protection of our human identity is so profound that a threat to that identity will lead to conflict. This raises concerns about the destruction of human identity within our cities and the inevitable conflict that this will perpetuate, exposing the irony of democratizing environments where the very notions they strive to uphold become the greatest threats to human agency. This paper poses questions vital for design and designers in the 21st century.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2008

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