The 21st-century city - defined by the duality of mass migrations
to cities and continued sprawl - provides innumerable challenges
and opportunities for architects, designers and planners today.
Rapid environmental changes require scientific monitoring as
forests and farmlands depopulate further; vast informal,
self-organised urban settlements develop in the absence of master
planning; and hyper-nodes monitor and influence everything through
networked communications, media images, foreign aid and military
might. Remote sensing and hand-held devices combine to create
just-in-time delivery of design and planning services. These have
the potential to shape and manage, as never before, vast
interconnected ecosystems at local, regional and global scales.
Close collaborations with scientists, decision makers and
communities incite architects to realise new communication and
networking skills. As the architect's role is transformed into that
of a designer of the form of information, flows and processes
rather than master planner, they will become the critical actor
shaping the cities of this millennium.
Presenting specially commissioned features on Dubai, Cochin, New
York, London, Washington, DC and Barcelona, this issue of AD
platforms emerging voices in architecture, science and planning. It
also presents penetrating treatments of important aspects of the
topic by specialists, such as geophysicist Christopher Small and US
Forest Service social ecologist Erika Svendsen, and contributions
by established urban designers and architects.
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