‘Urbanization’ and ‘Urbanizing’: the Small Urban Centers and the Urban Research Agenda

‘Urbanization’ and ‘Urbanizing’: the Small Urban Centers and the Urban Research Agenda

Prof. Jagath Munasinghe
Professor, Department of Town and Country Planning
University of Moratuwa

Date: 21 July 2022 (Thursday)
Time: 13:00 p.m. - 14:00 p.m. (HKT)

In contemporary urban planning discourse ‘urban’ is distinctly positioned at the backdrop of ‘rural’, defining ‘urban’ with geo-spatial attributes such as the density, land use, built-up area, and the type of governments. Hence, ‘urbanization’ is widely understood as a process in which populations from remote ‘rural’ areas migrate to defined ‘urban’ areas. As such, most of the ‘developing’ countries, especially in Asia, are viewed as yet largely ‘rural’ and transforming into ‘urban’ by means of internal growth and the sprawl of cities. However, in reality, some countries seem experiencing a ‘hidden’ urbanization, beyond what has been observed and forecast. Referring to the situations mainly in Sri Lanka and India, this speech is about an alternative thesis: i.e.: ‘urbanizing’, where instead of people migrating into urban locations, the urban facilities, urban lifestyles and urban dynamics reach out to the people, extending over the boundaries of conventional ‘urban areas’ to make them ‘urban’. The smaller urban areas, regional centres and rural towns play a crucial role in this ‘urbanizing’ process, but have gone out of the attention of both the urban discourse and the mainstream urban research agendas, in the light of mega cities, metro regions and urban conurbations. 

Language: English

About the Speaker:
Prof. Jagath Munasinghe 
is currently a Professor in Town Planning in the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, where he has been employed since 1999, and a practicing Architect and a Town Planner. Graduated with Master of Science in Architecture from University of Moratuwa in 1993, he obtained Mater of Town Planning Degree from University of Moratuwa in 1999 and PhD in Planning and Urban Design from the National University of Singapore in 2004. He is a Fellow Member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and a past President of the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka 2019-20). He held several key positions in the government of Sri Lanka and has involved in many local and international urban planning and design consultancy projects. His research interests are mainly focused upon the innovative approaches and novel methods in urban planning and design, spatial cognition and its implications on planning, and issues related to contemporary urban development projects in Sri Lanka.