Is the Global population too SMALL?

Over half the population of the United Kingdom, some thirty-one million people live in just 1% of the UK’s land mass. This is not the UK of course, where the resident population density is some 232 persons per sq. kilometre, but rather Tokyo city, the most populous city on the globe, boasting a total territorial population in excess of thirty-two millions. Tokyo is, however, by no means the most densely populated city on the planet. This accolade falls to Mumbai, India; Population: 14,350,000; Density: 29,650 persons per sq. kilometre; a total density, some 10 times greater than the density of the largest EU urban centres.

Since 2008 urban populations around the globe have exceeded agrarian populations and continue to outstrip them. The world’s population predominantly resides in cities and towns and no longer on the land and in the country. The average city density worldwide rests between 3 and 4,000 persons per sq. kilometre.

Should all the worlds’ cities reach densities similar to Mumbai then the total global population would reach 6-8 times its present total. It is therefore quite realistic to assume that population densities of the kind currently sustained in Mumbai are achievable throughout the globe giving a projected global population total of some 56 billion inhabitants.

Issues raised with respect to the notion of architectural form qua architectural type, might now be re-addressed in terms of the necessity of sustaining a mass culture under the thrall of late capitalism. Those who dream of smaller global populations as a solution to the exasperated sustainability of things as they currently are, may be less than willing to determine and to prosecute solutions for radical population reduction, upon the existing global population. The cure may be less palatable and certainly less politically achievable, than to continue to suffer the consequences of the perceived disease itself. Any forced retrenchment on the freedoms of human reproduction, such as those recently exercised in China, are likely to be dealt with, domestically with similar dissimulations.

Prospective population growth is however substantially affected by the urban condition. Cities with populations in excess of 4.5 millions tend to experience a reduction in population growth and cities with populations in excess of 8-9 millions, a steady state. The future, one might  argue, with the benefit of such hindsight, could now be entirely urban and as a consequence, and in the fullness of time, relatively stable.

A contemporary architectural typology, a contemporary study of architectural form as a sub-category of urban form, wishing to be at once ecologically credible and temporally sustainable, would be a typology in which the conditions of a new urban scale must be broached.


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