The unprecedented surge of urban populations, in the past three decades, has resulted in a ballooning of metropolitan footprints and related construction activity. Asia must cope on a daily basis with rifts between social and economic systems that result, spatially, in conflicts over land use.
Several binaries dominate the narrative: urban versus rural, rich versus poor, private versus public, and formal versus informal. Unresolved and festering, these binaries induce destabilising tension amongst parts within a whole, triggering systemic fragmentation.
These conflicts are often visible as outright struggle, with one group or species thriving at the expense of others. It can be seen in turbulent boundaries, or edge conditions, where skirmishes break out. It is accompanied by a loss of ecosystem services whereby natural systems, such as rivers, are degraded to the point that they are unable to support life. In some places, neighbourhoods turn into enclaves with hardened edges where space becomes exclusive to certain groups.
ASIAN CITIES, IN PARTICULAR THOSE IN A RAPID GROWTH PHASE, MANIFEST FIVE KINDS OF LOSSES AND FRAGMENTATION:
Shrinkage of water networks; deterioration of water quality; destruction or fragmentation of natural habitats; loss of green cover and agricultural land; degradation of ecosystem services; increases in ecological footprint.
Fragmentation of mobility networks; deterioration of pedestrian experience; depletion of public space; dilution of identity and sense of place.
Compromised health and safety; reduced access to Nature and community space; reduced opportunities to self-organise and thrive; increased stress and isolation due to crowding and distortions of spatial scales.
Threats to health and safety related to soil, water, and air quality; impaired ability of systems to recover from threats; diminished capacity of systems to generate resources.
Fragmentation of systems; loss of system-to-system interfaces and overlaps; weak reciprocity of exchanges between systems.