Designing Cities for Migrants

Migration is a natural human phenomenon. There are more than 175 million migrants in the world today. People leave their countries for many reasons, including war and civil conflict, the desire for economic improvement, family reunification and environmental degradation.

Migration adds a definitive layer to the city. City planners can anticipate the radical societal change generated by migration, in order to help cities, their populations, and industries to prepare.

The City is not built in a day. Each layer is created by people, by time, by movements, by politics. It develops, matures, ages sometimes becomes derelict and often reborn like Delhi. It is like a living organism.

Migration is increasing

 One out of every seven people in the world is a migrant. Understandably cities have always been priority destinations for migrants, offering opportunity and the chance for a new start. Emerging factors like the global loss of habitat caused by climate change are also spurring ever greater migration around the world, increasing the need for provisional accommodation.

In 2015, over a million people applied for asylum in the EU, being displaced persons, escaping from conflicts in their countries or just looking for better living conditions. The arrival of a large number of refugees has created significant challenges to urban governance, planning and urban design in many European cities as a result. Questions for cities have arisen, such as how to assist, house, train and integrate individuals from different cultures.

Migration also brings Social Change especially in the case of rural-urban migration. Rural-urban interaction is an important aspect of urbanisation. It is very probable that urbanisation and urban growth would have their impact on rural areas and activities in rural areas would have their effect on the nearby towns and cities.

 Urbanisation has impact on the economy and society of the surrounding villages. There is increase in farm pro­ductivity (due to the availability of fertilizers, better seeds, tractors, etc., in nearby cities), increase in commercialization of crops and decline in the density of farm population.Villagers  imbibe several urban characteristics in day to day life . Rural society also undergoes a certain change.

City migration solutions

Since the ‘refugee crisis’ started in Europe, many cities have shown exemplary abilities to find local solutions and an ability to adapt to the needs of a changing population. As Mayor Ada Colau stated in 2015 while launching the Barcelona, Refuge City action plan, ‘it may be that states grant asylum, but it is cities that provide shelter’.

In Leipzig, Germany, groups are providing communal apartments for small numbers of people, and social workers are coordinating volunteers to support refugees’ integration. In Berlin, modular housing initiatives are being developed, creating container villages to house refugees.

The ‘Kinetic City’

As architect and professor Rahul Mehrotra advocates, humanity is already creating in many places of the world what he calls the Kinetic City or temporary informal settlements where ‘nothing is forever and nothing is sacred’. For example, every 12 years, around seven million pilgrims gather in Haridwar, India, to create a temporary settlement while taking part in the   Kumbh Mela. As Mehrotra says, this reality shows the ‘changing roles for people and spaces in our urban society’, so our cities must be able to ‘expand and contract’ accordingly.

It’s vital that urban practitioners and professionals draw on existing best practice and discuss how to design and support cities as they face the challenges of a moving population – for instance understanding the needs of a temporary population, as suggested by the German Pavillon at the last Venice Biennale among others.

By working closely with public and private sectors, planners can understand migration, discuss possible frameworks of action, and commit to creating more sustainable, equitable and balanced cities.


Link(s) and Source(s):


City is Built Layer by Layer

Population and Migration

Rapid Urbanization calls for New Solutions


Planning History and Some Famous Planners



About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in earth, Migration, urban morphology, Urban Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

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