Megaprojects, Settlement Dynamics and the Sustainability Challenge in Metropolitan Cities
Habitat International - Volume 45, Part 3
Although not a recent phenomenon, megaproject building is currently enjoying renewed popularity in large cities across the world. Policy-makers are undertaking major investments in the form of large-scale urban development projects to position their metropolitan cities on a global scale and to scale-up urban infrastructure to meet basic needs of housing and transportation. The aim of this special issue, of which this article is the introduction, is to examine this trend, with a focus on four cities: Cape Town, Durban, Delhi, and Lima. On the basis of empirical case material, the articles analyse the challenges that megaprojects throw up for urban sustainability and discuss the peculiar issues facing cities characterized by extreme social inequalities, limited mobilisation of community groups and growing pressure on governments to implement neoliberal urban development policies. They illustrate how institutional contexts and specific policy instruments in conjunction with territorially grounded social dynamics give rise to distinct patterns of megaproject development. The articles engage critically with recent literature that has postulated the emergence of a new paradigm of megaproject building. The research is an outcome of work conducted in the framework of the “Chance2Sustain” project, funded under the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme.
Interactions between megaproject interventions and local communities represents critical subjects of investigation as national and metropolitan governments are using large-scale investments in urban landscapes as pillars of their growth strategies. This article analyses community resistance to the large-scale housing project N2 Gateway in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa township, Cape Town. Since 2004, the inhabitants of Joe Slovo have experienced evictions and relocation, but also the materialisation of new housing opportunities for many community members. Their response to the project has evolved from an initial show of resistance, via a legal process, to a more engagement-oriented strategy during the allocation phase. I argue that the mobilisation of informal settlement dwellers facing megaproject implementation has created disempowerment, social division and a reconfiguration of power relations. It is also proposed that community resistance to megaprojects is best understood when traced over time as a dynamic response to a constantly unfolding project-related intervention.
Lisa Strauch, Guillermo Takano, Michaela Hordijk
Much in contrast to the city John Turner (1967) once described as progressive in terms of housing approaches for the urban poor, today in Lima, the capital of Peru, private enterprises have assumed unprecedented planning powers. The city that for a substantial part has been produced ‘from below’ through collective action is increasingly transformed ‘from above’ through large-scale urban development projects. The article discusses how Lima's urban poor collectively resist the intervention of a megaproject in their neighbourhoods, the ‘Vía Parque Rímac’ expressway. This mixed-use project combines conventional road infrastructure with urban redevelopment, including public green spaces in the city centre. It is concluded that this emblematic project has significant implications for issues of spatial justice, political transparency and accountability.
Catherine Sutherland, Vicky Sim, Dianne Scott
Housing for the urban poor remains a significant challenge in South African cities. Post 1994 the South African state engaged in a large-scale housing programme delivering over 3 million state subsidised homes. However, housing policy since 2004 has shifted away from the delivery of housing units to the development of integrated human settlements. The national state has identified large scale mixed use projects, such as Cornubia in Durban, as the new approach. This paper explores the discourses constructed by multiple actors, including the national and local state, the private sector, technical experts (consultants) and civil society as they have shaped the development of this mixed use ‘housing’ project over time. The paper reveals the multiple ways in which space is constructed in a megaproject that is intended to address both pro-growth and pro-poor goals.
Mega-projects aimed at enhancing urban economic infrastructure have been widely recognised as a feature of cities in which influential actors are eager to encourage economic growth. They have also been described as being central in influencing physical patterns of city growth through their direct and indirect impacts on land-uses. Whilst such initiatives are not necessarily new, it has been noted in more recent urban development experiences that these projects tend to involve crafting highly complex, mixed-use environments through a variety of forms of public-private collaboration. Furthermore, they are promoted not only in instrumental terms as facilities or infrastructure to serve a need of a particular economic process, but are also often packaged and motivated as comprehensive urban developments that can reposition the image of cities in a highly competitive global investment environment. Such processes are both influenced by and, in turn, influence multi-scalar governance processes and practices, both in the planning and motivating projects, as well as in their operations. The new King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) and Dube TradePort (DTP), located some 35 km north from the City of Durban in South Africa, were projects developed with the intention of replacing an apparently obsolete facility so as to enable the region to attract more international aviation links that could, in turn, support tourism and exports. Based on analysis of documents and a range of stakeholder interviews, the paper shows how the development of the facilities and the associated impacts, from the shaping of space to meeting of operational targets, have been influenced by and also influenced the character of governance arrangements.
Sylvia Hannan, Catherine Sutherland
This paper explores the relationship between urban regeneration and sustainability within the post-apartheid city of Durban, South Africa, using mega-projects as a lens. In the past 20 years Durban has been shaped by both globalisation and post-apartheid restructuring, through processes of pro-growth urban regeneration and social transformation. Simultaneously, sustainability has emerged as a critical concept in the development and management of the city. This paper examines the regeneration landscape of the city, focussing on the implementation of two “new” mega-projects, as a regeneration strategy. These are the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Point Waterfront Development. Furthermore it reflects upon the inclusion of sustainable city principles within the development of these projects, in order to determine the extent to which this urban regeneration strategy considers sustainability. The paper concludes that the two agendas of urban regeneration and sustainability are currently divergent rather than convergent, and suggests that they require further integration to ensure a more sustainable urban future.
While the rejuvenation of India's rivers is a major future challenge for sustainable urban development, large-scale riverfront development projects across India indicate that the riverbed is often seen almost exclusively as real estate. In Delhi, a series of urban mega-projects has been realized on the river's floodplain, which almost simultaneously had been cleared of large slum settlements. By focusing on the environmental dimensions, discourses and legal conflicts, the case study contrasts the slum demolitions and the development of two intertwined mega-projects (the Akshardham Temple complex and the Commonwealth Games Village). Grounded on Ananya Roy’s (re)interpretation of informality as “a mode of urbanization”, the paper argues that urban mega-projects in India should be interpreted as intentionally created zones of exceptions embedded in a calculated urban informality.
The practices and instruments of urban governance are rapidly changing in Delhi, a metropolitan area of 24 million inhabitants characterized by strong socio-economic inequalities. The Delhi metro megaproject and its financing mechanism through land value capture are the prism through which this paper analyses governance patterns at different scales. This model has led to the production of mixed-use spaces in the heart of the city, allowing for a spatial cohabitation of transport functions as well as residential, commercial, and economic uses, following a pattern that has been identified as one of the defining features of a 'new generation of megaprojects' (Diaz Orueta & Fainstein, 2009). It argues that although there has been significant institutional change, notably the entry of private sector actors in mega infrastructure development, careful analysis of the modalities of this mechanism reveal important aspects of continuity including the pre-eminence of techno-scientific planning, minimal stakeholder consultation and conflicts in the public sphere. The Delhi metro case will be situated within the larger Indian context, which has been marked since the 2000s by the emergence of city-centric growth strategies with public investments concentrated in large cities often in the form of public-private partnerships (Kennedy & Zerah, 2008), and the importation and adaptation of international models.
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