From Manufacturing to Advanced Services: The (Uneven) Rise and Decline of Mediterranean City-Regions
Uneven changes in the global urban hierarchy have given way to new forms of relationships between urban and rural areas based on complementarities, cooperative and specialized exchange of services and goods, abandoning the additive processes of growth guided by industrialization and urbanization. Representing a distant notion from traditional concepts in regional studies such as 'compact cities' or 'suburbs', 'gravitation' or 'hierarchy', the 'city-region' paradigm has stimulated different visions to be recomposed within the 'sustainability' framework. With global changes, the 'mega-city region' model has starting to take the lead in the development of contemporary urban agglomeration. In this study, considerations over the emergence of this urban model in the Mediterranean region will be presented to investigate the relationship between dispersed urbanization and consolidating southern European city-regions. While Mediterranean cities have been considered for long time as ‘ordinary’ cities, rather distant from the 'globalized' northern urban models, most of these cities are characterized by distinctive socioeconomic traits possibly open to competition and globalization. The present contribution describes the emergence of a Mediterranean urban area, Athens, as a new 'city-region' in the context of urbanization processes in Greece and in the Mediterranean basin as a whole. One of the clearest indications of urban competitiveness amongst emerging and established large city-regions is the fight for hosting mega-events. The final objective of the study is to understand how the efforts for increasing urban competitiveness are impacting new forms of city-regions, mainly based on low-density settlements reflecting discontinuous urbanization.