image via The Telegraph
The Telegraph reported recently that city planners in China are thinking about merging 9 cities into what I’ll call a megatropolis of 42 million people. The idea is to connect infrastructure systems like transportation, energy and water to distribute industry and make public services more accessible to residents of the Pearl River delta area.
This emerging mega-city is in part a response to growth happening already in other parts of China. The region around Beijing is being unified by high-speed rail to unify a network of feeder cities and promote economic growth.
There has been some back and forth about whether the details provided in The Telegraph’s report are entirely accurate, but what is certain is that China has many rapidly growing urban centers, many of which lie relatively close to one another. So, does it make sense to connect infrastructure systems? Would greater efficiency lead to an environmental benefit? Or would these urban centers be a drain of energy and resources?
It’s interesting to think about — preparing for urban planning on that scale would give architects, engineers, landscape architects and urban planners the chance to develop in a way that may be less harmful to the environment than not. But, there is only so much development an ecosystem can sustain and where does the scale tip? 42 million?