The classical city was required to be beautiful while adhering to the rules of decorum, the modern city had to be radiant while organizing its requirements, but the contemporary city must be sustainable while preserving its bend with nature. Since the industrial aera, residential over-crowding and road congestion have necessitated rational reforms that make the city more fluid, heatlthy and natural. Today’s motivations and sustainable development projects are consistent with the areas of discourse.
In Bulgaria, a country in transition, sustainable development discourse is looked upon as an ideological model to be taken into account when integrating the European Union institutions, but it is also one that vaguely harks back to the planing dictates of the previoux regime. This regime pratically destroyed Balkan city frameworks prior to industrial growth. The housing stock in Bulgarian cities tens to be dilapidated and the inhabitants have their hands full provinding for the basic needs of life. Protecting the heritage and the environment is not one of their immediate priorities.
Poland’s eventful history does not predispose its cities and its inhabitants to make heritage protection the highest of their priorities. Large, hastily-bult housing estates, ancient districts, and buldings that denote socialist realism - these three main forms of residential environment are affected in different ways by the erosion of time. The limited resources of home ownership candidates constrain flows, and post-socialist construction merely satisfies those with the highest incomes.
In Russia, the right to housing, not long ago expressed by the Soviet State in square metres per capita, is now confonted with liberalization of the real estate market. The economic transition is not set to reduce de facto inequalities inherited form the former regime. Privatization of part of the rental housing stock and the building of new social housing is coming up against legal difficulties and a lack of financial resources.
In response to a trand that is making the heritage into a short-term investment, there is a concerted effort towards a non-monetary relationship with the heritage. But this community initiative is also caught up with privatization strategies that reduce the common heritage to the assets of just a few. Conflicts betwenn private and public interests are being played out right at the heart of sustainable development strategies in a context of quickening time.
The rules or urban planning law establish the assets that society feels it must protect from the ravages of time. Future-oriented public choices, justified by the sustainable development challenge, have not yet been given a specific legal framawork. But the arsenal of legislation and procedures for operational urban planning offers a variety of tools for a long-term commitment.
The protection of monuments and sites, which was long the preserve of republican elites, has gradually been extended to encompass many urban activities under the impulse of the associations. Demolition of decrepit, poverty-stricken areas and some industrial buildings gives a veiled indication of the interests invested in safeguarding the heritage. No doubt the discourse of the common good and the sustainable city that goes together with an enlarged heritage core obscures the selective conservation chices being made.
The local authorities of the fast-growing capital of Escuador, Quito, in their efforts to protect the natural environment, are coming up against a problem of illegal settlements of poor households ont the city’s woodland slopes, its essential green lungs. The extent of public condemnation of the encroachment on the slopes by squatter settlements is only equalled by the discretion of the reactions to prestige buildings that are also appropriating these quality spaces.
In Iran, the urban population has doubled over the past forty years, leading to a housing shortage and social inequalities in living conditions. The 1979 Revolution did not improve matters and irregular, self-help housing developed in the fringe areas. After the 1989 war, real estate speculation worsened in Tehran, mainly through the misuse of municipal regulations on buildin rights. Urban decongestion, the fair distribution of water and democratic participation are now becoming major demands.
Classification of the cities of Djenné and Tombouctou in Mali as part of the World Heritage of Humanity concers monuments rather than economic and social development. International upmarket tourism does quite well out, of it but the technical solutions adopted need to be handled locally. Inhabitants and local businesses mainly make concrete demands for housing, schools and medical services.
Heritage concerns are taking on different forms in Fès and in Tunis. In Fès, the inhabitants of the medina have set themselves up a active promoters of the Fassi local heritage. In Tunis, institutionalization of the heritage has transformed the medina into a tourist area for an international market. Reinvented filiation here and a new type of colonization there.
Since its firts factory in the 19th century, the earthenware industry in Sarreguemines, esatern France, has been an integral part of the city’s history. This activity, which was initially recognized for its economic and social benefits, became the backcloth to a class struggle during the inter-war period and then declined during the Trente Glorieuses, the thirty prosperous years that followed World War II. Restructuring during the globalization period has brought about a strong reaction in defence onf the heritage by the local authorities, which is the foundation stone of new tourist-targeted marketing activities.
The separation of social functions in space is the dominant principle of the concept of large housing estates, industrial zones and urban motorways. Street space which traditionally forms a link between movement and settlement, has gone beyond the parenthesis of the modern movement and has one again become key to thinking on urban dynamics.
Urban planners fear urban sprawl and evoke a nostalgic image of local urbanity. Yet the peri-urban residential environment in conjunction with car travel is merely one way of life among many and furthermore it is often the result of constrained choices. Upgrading the suburbs by reducing the segregation processes that isolate them forms a third course in the context of a false alternative between urban sprawl and the compact city.
The obsolescence of modern buildings is measured by the mismatch between forms, expectations and usages. In office buildings, the architect is increasingly called upon to adpat space to changes in work relationships. When anticipation of the future obscures present adjustements and the threat of degradation, the obsolescence of builidings accelerates.
Energy, water, food and many raw materials enter cities only to leave them in the state of atmospheric pollutants, effluents and other waste. The 19th century tried to recycle in industry a large part of theses products of urban metabolism. The resulting heavy equipment and machinery now limits cities’ margins for manoeuvre for coping with the challenge of a variety of nuisances.