Challenging conventional wisdom on the peri-urban, Rehabilitating the peri-urban offers unexpected insight and provides avenues for action, in order to live and move sustainably in peri-urban areas. This book offers an interpretation of the themes developed during the 2nd International Meetings of the Mobile Lives Forum, enhanced with numerous portfolios, drawings and interviews.
When it comes to the future of territories, the compact city is presented as the sole (and ultimate) model of sustainable development. Conversely, peri-urban areas are stigmatized.
But what would happen were we to regard them as something other than repellent, lacking in positive qualities, characterized by wasted space and energy, self-segregation, automobile dependency and landscape uniformity? These areas are not going to disappear. Looking more closely, we see that they are home to the initiatives, practices and lifestyles that are shaping the sustainable mobilities of tomorrow.
We must change our perspective and rehabilitate peri-urban areas. That is the subject of this book, which was born of the 2nd International Meetings of the Mobile Lives Forum. Those who do not wish to settle for platitudes about the rurban – as this is the term we propose to use – will find in these pages the essential keys to understanding how we live and move in peri-urban areas today, and how they can become places of sustainable mobilities.
The book is organized around several major theories:
- The term peri-urban is inadequate, as it is refers to dependency on the periphery of a city center, while the autonomy of peri-urban areas is, in fact, growing. In other words, one can live in the peri-urban without frequenting the big city! “Contrary to popular belief, the practices of peri-urban inhabitants are strongly marked by local anchoring.
- Let us instead use the term “rurban.” Rurban is where rural and the urban meet — the point of contact between city and countryside. Let us take this hybridization into account without favoring one or the other.
- There is not a rurban, but rurbans. There is a wide variety of landscapes—from single-family housing lots to villages to neighborhoods with buildings. Similarly, the lifestyles of their inhabitants are not uniform. “Although we often consider the peri-urban as the privileged place of the middle classes, its inhabitants are not identical.”
- Rurban inhabitants face a stigma for their so-called energy-inefficient lifestyles. Although they are compared to inhabitants of densely-populated cities, who are depicted as spearheads of sustainable development, recent works nonetheless challenge this comparison. “A fair amount of data proves that the carbon footprint of rurban would be lower than that of city dwellers.”
- Rurban areas are places of social and technological innovation all over the world. Easily adaptable, they could help us face contemporary crises. “If the value of a place can be measured by the inspiration it arouses, then must acknowledge the still largely unexploited potential of peri-urban areas”.
- Changes are observed in terms of travel. Thanks to many local initiatives, the private car will, in time, no longer necessarily be the predominant locomotion solution in these areas. “We are observing the development of carpooling, car sharing and on-demand transportation. These solutions for organizing travel are particularly suited to rurban areas.”
- A number of concrete actions could bolster these changes. While often inexpensive, they require a joint investment by citizens, the public sector and companies. “Aiming for a rapid change in modal share seems tricky, but thinking about alternatives to the private car leads us to consider different, qualitative developments, in which everyone can be a winner.”
These observations are enhanced with maps, charts and diagrams, as well as the work of the contemporary photographers, thus revealing rurban spaces around the world in a new light. Interviews, presentations of the Forum’s research projects, critical reviews of key works, a bibliography and an index enable the reader to go further.
To quote this publication:
Forum Vies Mobiles (2013, 25th of September), « Presentation », Mobile Lives Forum. Connnexion on 2nd of July 2015, URL: http://en.forumviesmobiles.org/publication/2013/09/25/presentation-1277