Cities in Developing Countries

5.2 Saucer Type

This cities, sometimes referred to as hollowed cities, are quite typical for many countries of the former Eastern bloc. This cities were affected by planning ideals which tended to neglect their historic evolution. The basic planning entity was the microrayon (microdistrict). These spatial units represented essentially self-sufficient neighborhoods which contained workplaces, retail facilities, and a variety of other amenities. In consequence, there was no need for a large central business district. Instead, the low-rise center is dominated by a huge square. This rudimentary downtown is surrounded by public residential estates, whereby the elevations become progressively higher towards the outskirts. The residential districts, made up of prefabricated slab buildings, are linked to the center with more or less efficient light rail and subway systems.

5.3 Forced Segregation Type

Cities belonging to this category represent an example of deliberately implemented ethnical and social segregation. Such cities were, for instance, common during the apartheid period in South Africa, and manifested in the establishment of spatially separated satellite towns like Soweto near Johannesburg.

The underlying policy was based on an ideology of separate development of ethnic nations, each of which was to have an own homeland. Within the cities different ethnicities were assigned specific urban areas, separated by buffer-zones of open land. Ethnic segregation and land use zoning in urban areas were based on eviction and resettlement schemes. This spatial reorganization intended to minimise cross-ethnic interaction. Whites were allocated central areas, and blacks displaced to distant peripheral townships. (13) This policy lead to a strict separation of residential areas characterized by different house standards for different ethnicities. However, discordant with the racist ideology there was a basically uniform housing model: The single family home erected on an individual lot.

Most South African cities are characterized by sparsely separated business cores and / or suburban office parks surrounded by residential areas. The preference for car-based development is epitomized by wide roads, oversized lots and stand-alone shopping malls. At the fringes of old cities formal new townships are to be found. These are mostly intertwined with informal settlements.

Though Apartheid cities show multinucleated layouts to some extent, they are characterized by predominantly sectoral land use patterns. This is a logical consequence of the subliminally still effective intention to avoid the necessity of commuting through areas of different ethnic status.


(13) Compare Sprinks, Charlotte: A New Apartheid? Urban Spatiality, (Fear of) Crime, and Segregation in Cape Town, South Africa. Development DESTIN Studies Institute. Working Paper Series, 2001.