Architects aren't ready for an urbanized planet
EW DELHI: The world is racing to the city, and the one group of professionals capable of housing and sheltering the massive human influx to the urban centers - the architects and the planners - freely acknowledge that they are ill-equipped to cope.
This summer, the number of people living in cities exceeded the number living in rural areas for the first time. Of the planet's six billion people, three billion live in cities, of whom one billion live in urban slums. Twenty years from now, the total global population is forecast to increase to eight billion, of whom five billion will be living in cities, two billion of them in slums.
As the demands on the world's planners grow, academics from around the world gathered at a recent conference and expressed great unease about their ability to prepare the next generation of architects to build for this urban future.
"Every year the urban population increases by 80 million, equivalent to the population of Germany," said Lars Reutersward, an architect and director of the global division at UN Habitat, the United Nations department that looks at urban development.
"Within that there will be an increase in slum dwellers the size of Holland and Belgium put together - 35 million - every year. This is a complete disaster, and it doesn't have to happen," he added.