Image: Bas Princen, 2011

The concept of planetary urbanization is a widely-debated topic today. The boundaries of the urban have been exploded to encompass vast territories far beyond the limits of even the largest mega-city regions. Novel patterns of urbanization are crystallizing in varied environments, challenging inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded zone and a dense settlement type. This project explores and analyzes different examples of extended urbanization, and proposes a radical rethinking of inherited cartographies of the urban, at all spatial scales, encompassing both built and unbuilt spaces. This topic in urban research urgently needs further empirical as well as theoretical foundational work, and has great implications for urban planning and urban design. The core of the project is the development of a theoretical and methodological framework that allows for the analysis of extended urbanization, and for the generation of new concepts and urban design proposals. The project will launch transdisciplinary research trajectories to analyze and compare selected territories of extended urbanization in different parts of the world. These include the Singapore cross-border region (palm oil), the Brazilian Amazon (communication networks), the North Sea (energy), the West African Corridor (emerging megaregion), West Bengal (seasonal labor migration) and the European countryside (depopulation, sociology, ethnography and economics). The research work involves a group of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers with backgrounds in architecture, urbanism and urban studies, who are affiliated with the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore and the ETH Zurich Department of Architecture. It will result in a book offering foundational contribution to this emerging field.

Project team

Prof. Christian Schmid
Asst. Prof. Milica Topalovic
Elisa Bertuzzo
Rodrigo Castriota
Alice Herzog-Fraser
Nikos Katsikis
Metaxia Markaki
Kit Ping Wong
Hans Hortig
Nancy Couling


AbdouMaliq Simone
Philippe Rekacewicz