Broadly, my research interests intersect urban planning and critical urban geography with international development. The success and growth of developing countries often relies on the emergence of a major city. These cities provide economic hubs, a direct and centralized connection to other international visitors, and a birthplace for both social norms and diversity. Since the growth of cities in developing countries is so important, I want to pose a question: What urban planning strategies build successful cities in developing countries?
This question could take the form of many different lenses. What urban planning strategies build successful urban economics? Which strategies build successful social urban atmospheres? Which strategies build successful sustainable urban practices? Will these strategies ever overlap, and could they even coexist? This last question presents the first of many large puzzles I mean to research. To add onto this, how can “success” even be defined?
My interest in the complexity of city planning was sparked last semester while taking a writing course focusing on architecture criticism and urban planning literature. My view on urban spaces was revolutionized after reading Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In the final chapter of the book, she discusses why cities are so complex; cities do not “exhibit one problem in organized complexity, which, if understood explains all.”Additionally, she added that strategies which work in one city may often be unsuccessful in another due to the individuality of each urban culture. The complexity she describes has only further peaked my interest in the semantics of urban space.
As for thoughts about how this research will be conducted, I am considering my options for choosing a specific lens to answer my essential question from. I also would love to delve into case studies considering the individuality of each city.