320px Banlieue nord P1190008Michel Sudarskis, the general secretary of INTA, took part in the 6th edition of the Symposium Research on Real Estate and City Construction of the Palladio Fondation, themed Revolution and reconciliation in the territories: an ongoing transition?, on the 13 September. He and Bernard Roth, CEO of real estate group Pericles, wrote a text that synthesize the debate, on equality between metropolises and territories in France. 

 

The 6th Symposium of the Palladio Research Group, bravely named Territorial Revolution and Reconciliation, brought a fresh air on the nagging debate on urbanization and territorial inequality. The insertion of suburban districts in the metropolitan dynamic is questioning the dichotomy city center / suburb or periurban, leading to a redefinition of the suburb. Paradoxically, while sprawl was reprehensible until recently, the improvement of mobility at metropolitan level is becoming an incentive for the return of residential activity in close periphery. For Christophe Guiluy, geographer, those territories that are deemed popular and downgraded are places where a middle class is nurtured.

Can we talk about metropolis without prejudice? Metropolisation, as a process, is not only an political concept, it is first and foremost an economic project, a mechanism for territorial solidarity, a space for social and cultural innovation, a tool for redistributing growth so as to reduce the social and spatial inequalities. Thereupon, the urbanization process can only be approach in a systemic way, that is to say a global and cross sectoral way, with numerous factors: investment, connections, public interest, attractiveness, innovation…
The creation of a metropolitan system being in itself an innovation.

To become and remain sustainable, metropolitan strategies are leaning on the triple role of metropolis: a political platform for local authorities and civil society; a social vehicle caring for the need of proximity and cohesion; a market opportunity for the economic forces. The weakness of one of these three roles can weaken the whole metropolis construction.

Small or big, the metropolis size is a relative factor; what is important is the position of the metropolis in the regional network of small and medium-sized cities, and the metropolis place in the national network (and international) of other metropolises. It would be a mistake to see the metropolis as a single pole absorbing all the resources of the neighbouring territories; the metropolis attractiveness is coming from the complementarity of the territories. To take it further, we could wish for a limitless metropolis, or one without a single centre, in which no one is locked at the very end.

Considering demographic growth in the central districts of the metropolis, and the cost of real estate and of building material, should we reconsider self-construction as a mode of producing the city? Is there therefore a room for the real estate industry as mediator between policy leader and the inhabitants?

The new urban continuity, created by the metropolis effect, is unveiling macro territorial differentiations; the places for wealth creation are less and less places for redistribution of revenue and consumption. Is territorial equality still necessary in situations of harsh territorial competition and of structural crisis? Rather than equality let think equity; we could replace the equation equality of people = equality of territories by the promotion of human development and individual capacities, whatever is the social and geographic position of the inhabitants.

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