Big Cities: Multi-Centric vs. Mono-Centric Approach

© Fotolia / filtvPeople walk on the Red Square in Moscow.
People walk  on the Red Square in Moscow. - Sputnik International
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What is typical for urbanization is that even in the highly urbanized countries, cities, especially large cities, continue to grow. Russia is no exception.

What is typical for urbanization is that even in the highly urbanized countries, cities, especially large cities, continue to grow. Russia is no exception.

Big Cities: Multi-Centric vs. Mono-Centric Approach

 

In today’s Russia, the main zones of population are mostly concentrated in the cities, which have emerged within a 500 km radius around Moscow. This region has set the tone for economic reforms attracting migrants from around the country as well as from former Soviet states.

But growing cities are also changing cities. The most visible change is urban sprawl – cities expand, with population and employment increasing more in the periphery than in the center of the city. A large proportion of employment growth in the periphery is becoming agglomerated in a small number of so-called secondary centers, giving rise to multi-centric urban structures. This phenomenon is a prominent feature in the United States and has led to the well-known model of the edge cities, which replicate the main center.

Some experts criticize the multi-centric approach to developing a big city, as opposed to a more traditional mono-centric approach. Francesco Mancini, Non-resident Senior Adviser, International Peace Institute (IPI) in Singapore, says it’s much more complicated than just deciding which option is better.

“I don’t think there’s one-size-fits-all approach at the global level. I think certain cities have to be developed in multi-centers, for example, a city like Jakarta, which has serious logistical challenges… It’s inevitable that the city would be developed along the model of multi-centers,” Francesco Mancini said.

For Moscow, urbanization could go beyond annexation of the New Moscow territory, now a southwestern arm of the city extending to the border of the Kaluga region, which happened two years ago. Now, analysts admit that Moscow agglomeration could even extend beyond the current borders of the Moscow region within the next ten years. The area could include nearby large regional centers such as Tula, Tver, Kaluga and possibly Vladimir.

Some see obvious advantages here as a huge, dynamic territory with a big market will take shape, while others still hope that one day other similar agglomerations will emerge in Russia, say, in Siberia and Far East.

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