Almost all commentators on urbanism seem to coincide that the future belongs to the cities, and that the coming population growth on earth (3 billion more habitants on earth by the year 2050) will most certainly happen in urban areas. There is also much talk about sustainable and resilient cities.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a sustainable city, at least not today. That would mean an urban area almost totally self-sufficient and autonomous from its surroundings. But it you look underneath you’ll find a “nervous system” and a “bloodstream” that it absolutely dependent on a constant flow of communications, energy, products and foodstuff to stay alive.
In the middle ages, if you wanted to invade a fortified city, you could just cut off its supplies and sit and wait for the governor to hand you over the keys to the city. The Roman Empire imploded when it no longer could maintain its supplies from the outside world. Modern cities of today are no different; they are impossible without the never-ending flow from the outside world.
So what if future growth where to happen in rural areas instead, driven by technological changes and the need to secure energy and provisions? This is argument of the British government environmental secretary Liz Truss.
“People are more likely to start up a business in a rural area than in an urban area. There’s a myth out there that innovation happens in cities, that it happens in major towns. In fact, we’re seeing lots of innovation, lots of exports, new technology startups, in rural areas”, she reportedly said in a radio program.