Extended Urbanisation in Agricultural Territories: Operationalisation, Peripheralisation, and EnclosureNitin Bathla, Naomi Hanakata, Karoline Kostka, and Christian Schmid

What is the future of agricultural territories that are exposed to rapid and far-reaching urban transformation processes – with massive social and environmental implications? Nearly half of the planet’s total land area is currently dedicated to some form of agricultural production, making agriculture one of the most important fields of action to address the manifold problematic of sustainability. Extended urbanisation in agricultural areas often generates risks for climate change, exhaustion of water and natural resources, consumption of arable land, and depletion of soil fertility, as well as disadvantaging local populations, generating forced migration and affecting quality of life. Furthermore, the industrialisation of agriculture, including dependence on fertilisers, pesticides and fossil fuels, often results in soil erosion and long-term environmental pollution. More theoretical and empirical work on processes of extended urbanisation in agricultural territories is urgent.

The project New Urban Agendas under Planetary Urbanisation analyses processes in agricultural territories of the Zurich metropolitan region, Arcadia (Greece), Johor (Malaysia), Delhi (India), and the Northeast of Thailand in three typical forms: 1) operationalised landscapes of industrial agriculture, 2) peripheralised mountain regions, and 3) enclosed and fragmented agricultural landscapes in extended metropolitan regions.

The objective of this project is to A) sharpen and expand questions around the three proposed forms of extended urbanisation in agricultural territories drawing from empirical work, and B) develop urban-territorial design strategies and governance models for selected case studies within the Zurich metropolitan region, based on the principles of agro-ecology and sustainable urban development. The project uses cartography to synthesise interdisciplinary research results from ethnographic fieldwork, soil ecologies and ecosystem services.

In the scope of the Future Cities Lab (FCL) Research Overture series, Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid—Principal Investigator, Asst. Prof. Dr. Naomi Hanakata—Principal Investigator, Dr. Nitin Bathla—Postdoctoral researcher, and Karoline Kostka—Senior Researcher present parts of the ongoing research project New Urban Agendas Under Planetary Urbanisation.


Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid, Principal Investigator & Professor, Chair of Sociology, D-ARCH, ETH Zürich

Asst. Prof. Dr. Naomi Hanakata, Principal Investigator & Ass. Professor, DOA Architecture, NUS

Dr. Nitin Bathla, Post-doc, Chair of Sociology, D-ARCH, ETH Zürich

Karoline Kostka, Senior Researcher, Chair of Architecture and Territorial Planning, D-ARCH, ETH Zürich