Archipelago Cities

Archipelago Cities is one of the three research Scenarios in Future Cities Laboratory. It focuses on Singapore within its regional context and on cities  in the ASEAN+ geographical area – Southeast Asia, India and China which are best thought of as city regions: inter-connected, urbanised ‘islands’ embedded in an extended, surrounding and functionally integrated region. The term ‘archipelago cities’ expresses metaphorically the city-region concept be they maritime or terrestrial. It is also a literal description referencing city-regions located in the Southeast Asian archipelago, which has one of the longest and most heavily populated coastlines in the world. To plan and design for the sustainable future, we must see those cities in relation to their hinterlands. The rapid urbanization process in the ASEAN+ region has delivered quite novel and unprecedented urban forms, which cannot be easily understood in terms of existing European or North American urban models where urban growth has slowed, and many cities are even ‘shrinking’. In this sense, we precisely invert Ungers’ [1973] use of the term ‘archipelago city’ in postwar Berlin discussion. In contrast, cities in the ASEAN+ area are growing in unfamiliar and novel logics producing hybrid, urban-rural typologies and new kinds of urban-hinterland connectivity.

Understanding these peri-urban areas and the urban-hinterland networks, is a necessary first step in rethinking the future scope and responsibility of urban planning and development. In this research that focuses on cities and their terrestrial hinterlands, the emphasis will be on better understanding the these new quasi-urban and semi-rural settlement types, from an economic, social, and environmental perspective. Through such research we can better grasp the infrastructural needs and development potentials of this increasingly prevalent urban typology.

This Scenario aims to tackle the physical inadequacies of settlements in these rapidly urbanising regions – through alternative construction and material systems, and also innovative approaches to territorial and regional urban planning (on land and sea) – whilst building upon the productive economic and social support systems that already exist.

Archipelago Cities consists of four research projects:

1 Territories of Extended Urbanisation (PIs: Milica Topalovic, Christian Schmid)

2 Urban-Rural Systems: Seeding Adaptive Infrastructure (PI: Stephen Cairns)

3 Alternative Construction Materials (PI: Dirk Hebel)

4 Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A Case Study on the Explorer Franz Junghuhn (PIs: Philip Ursprung, Alex Lehnerer)

Research Scenario Coordinator for Archipelago Cities: Devisari Tunas

See more information about Archipelago Cities here.


Photo credit: Lincoln Lewis (2015)