What is the definition of a city?

In the U.K., city status is traditionally conferred to towns with a diocesan cathedral, although in recent years the criteria has been slightly relaxed. For the rest of the world, there does not seem to be a specific criteria for a town to label itself as a city. In many places, town is often synonymous with City.

What makes up a city?

In recent years, governments bodies have taken a great interest in how to make their city great. This is necessary to cope with population fluctuations, sustain economic development and maintain a decent quality of living for it’s inhabitants. To achieve that,  cities have to remain globally competitive to attract talent and businesses. Essential components to facilitate city growth.

In my opinion, a city is an amalgamation of its inhabitants, history, architecture and infrastructure. With the former two making up the “soul” of the city and the latter two dictating how they interact. Ideally with as little government intervention to avoid “over-determination” and to allow the city the flexibility to adapt to its ever changing landscape and to grow as organically as possible.

This danger is particularly acute in the rapidly-growing cities today of the developing world; the placement, shape, and function of many buildings and streets in Shanghai ten years ago often makes little sense a decade later as the city has expanded; the buildings have therefore to be torn down, the streets erased. In some cases this is simply too expensive, and in all cases wasteful; the dead dinosaur which human beings have built then begins to deaden the space around it.

Richard Sennet on the dangers of over-determination

Is there a magic recipe for the perfect city?

 Although, most cities are currently facing the same set of problems; how to maintain social cohesion due to an aging population and an increasingly globally mobile population. As well as how to preserve its own heritage while still providing room for growth and be inclusive (not just tolerant) of its new inhabitants’  culture. I hope there isn’t a singular recipe for the perfect city. I’m sure everyone has a different list of favorite cities, and each city on that list has its own unique qualities. The last thing I think anyone would want is for every single city in the world to be bland carbon copies of each other.


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