The discussion on architectural design and urban planning focuses mainly on the issues raised by huge urban agglomerations. Rapid development in Eastern and Southern Asia and the awareness that more than half the world popula- tion has actually become urban (UN 2007), together with other facts, are drawing the attention of professionals and theorists to the varied facets of high densification. As usual when new fascinating problems arise, the fresh concepts and tools devel- oped to understand and handle the realm of metropolises and megacities are often misused and extended to different, smaller and less involved urban realities. The adjective “metropolitan” is frequently used to describe every urban settlement, though their form and function may not show any of the characters of the metropolis. Some large-scale, sociological and economic problems arising from this polarisation have already been described in some publications (Afshar, Habitat Int 22:375–387, 1998); their basic arguments run parallel to those expressed in this article. However, a great amount of work still needs to be done on the scale of urban design and architecture. This chapter attempts to investigate adequate and effective ideas for the less densely populated areas, mainly focusing on three points: 1. How concepts regarding cities and contemporary urban design are strongly affected by imagery related principally to the idea of metropolis that has slowly evolved since the very beginning of the twentieth century. 2. A “reality check” based on official sources concerning the true importance of the metropolis in world population distribution. 3. A non-exhaustive list of conceptual tools addressing architectural work in less populated areas.
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