Multi-angle picture of urban segregation and mobility
An EU-funded project explored how political, spatial and social factors shape segregation and mobility in two contrasting national contexts: Sweden and Israel. A new transport modelling tool, published findings and a film are helping to inform policymakers.
© Tata Chen - fotolia.com
Over half of the worlds population lives in urban settlements and, according to the UN, that figure could rise to 60 % by 2030. Rapid urbanisation can present new opportunities, but also challenges including growing social division, violence and unrest particularly in cities where segregation along ethno-nationalist lines is growing.
The EU-funded Contested Urbanism project is helping urban and transport planners to understand the social and spatial inequalities arising from these contested urban settings. The researchers developed rich models to map where divisions occur in cities, taking into account different socio-economic, ethnic, religious and racial factors.
Models tell the story
The lead researchers at the centre of the project, funded through the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship programme, were Jonathan Rokem and Laura Vaughan, both from University College Londons Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture.
They examined the effect of national-level planning by comparing political and welfare policies in Sweden and Israel. They also investigated how individual perception, local communities and civil society shape these processes.
The analysis looked very closely at public transport in Jerusalem and Stockholm, measuring the likely impact of transport planning on end-users from different ethnic and social backgrounds.
This resulted in a new tool for modelling transport vulnerability and strategic policymaking in cities that factors in mobility, accessibility and the potential for cross-group encounters.
Contested Urbanisms multi-angle picture of urban segregation and mobility has prompted valuable debate in academic and policymaking circles. The project highlights that issues of mobility and presence in public space are important for understanding segregation in contrast to a more static, residential-based approach traditionally found in urban studies and planning literature.
The team produced a film, Learning from Jerusalem, to analyse some of the main changes in Jerusalems recent history. The film uses space syntax methods graph-based mathematical analysis of networks. It captures the citys shifting borders, politics, demography, religion, planning and public transport.
The projects results are supported by several scientific publications in journals such as Urban Studies, Interventions in Urban Geopolitics, and a contribution to the Jerusalem section of Wiley-Blackwells 2018 Encyclopaedia of Urban and Regional Studies.