Cities and the positive externalities of agglomeration, have been widely recognised as generators of value. The latest UN Habitat stresses that agglomeration zones, although covering no more than 3 percent of the earth’s surface, contribute more than 70 percent of global GDP. But the concentration of population and economic activities in a minor percentage of the planetary terrain, is directly interconnected, through a wide set of metabolic interdependencies, with the bio-geographical organisation of the “other” 70 percent of the total land surface utilised. These extensive and often specialised “operational landscapes” of primary production (agriculture, mining, forestry), circulation and waste disposal, constitute the material basis of planetary urbanisation. This contribution aims to unpack the spatial configurations of human and extra-human (natural, or technical) work, through which operational landscapes become active agents in urbanisation processes, revealing urbanisation as condition of constant geographical re-organisation of social and ecological value.
Nikos Katsikis is an urbanist working at the intersection of urbanisation theory, design and geospatial analysis. He holds a Doctor of Design degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). He is Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Luxembourg in the program on Architecture, European Urbanization and Globalization, and Research Tutor at the Royal College of Arts, London. In parallel, he is affiliated researcher at ETH-Zurich Future Cities Laboratory and at Urban Theory Lab, Harvard GSD. At the GSD he is also on the editorial board of the journal New Geographies (since 2012), co-editor of New Geographies 06: Grounding Metabolism (Harvard University Press, 2014), and he has served as Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design (2014-2015) and Teaching and Research Associate (2010-2014, 2015-2016). He holds a professional degree in Architecture with highest distinction (2006) and a Master of Science in Architecture and Spatial Design (2009) from the National Technical University of Athens. His recent work includes contributions in Harvard Design Magazine, New Geographies and MONU; book chapters in Implosions / Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (ed. Neil Brenner); Doing Global Urban Research (ed. Michael Hoyler); The Horizontal Metropolis (ed. Paola Viganò); the edited volume Manhattan: Grid for Ordering an Island (with Joan Busquets), Positions on Emancipation (with Florian Hertweck); and the forthcoming book with N. Brenner, Is the world urban? Towards a Critique of Geospatial Ideology.