Index.hu reports on a lecture by György Alföldi, associate professor at the urban planning and design department of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The topic of the lecture was urban planning, Budapest then and now, and scientists’ predictions for the future of the city.
The natural and built environment, the economy and society all constitute a city. Such settlements have existed since the beginning of recorded history, but it was only in the 19th century that cities as we know them today began to emerge. Conscious urban planning appeared, out of necessity, at the same time, first in London, after the city’s population reached 1 million and systematic organisation became needed.
The beginning of the 20th century is considered the golden age of Budapest. After Chicago, it was the second most rapidly growing city in the world in terms of its population, which numbered 900,000. Yet, the golden age did not mean prosperity for everyone. More than half the apartments sold at the time only had one bedroom.
According to index.hu, Europe was also much more significant globally, since 6 out of the world’s 10 biggest cities were on the continent. By 2000, none of them were on this list any longer, and Budapest has lost its momentum as well. Compared to its 1984 peak, population started to decline and reached its lowest point in 2007. Since then, figures have started to rise again.
Future studies experts cannot foresee the outcomes, but they can predict certain tendencies. According to these predictions, by the year 2050, 75% of the world’s population is going to live in megalopolises – clusters of connected metropolitan areas. However, in the case of Budapest this is not very likely; scientists do not expect substantial population growth in the city.
The future of Budapest largely depends on two factors: whether Hungary can keep pace with more developed European nations, and whether Europe can maintain its position globally. If Hungary turns to the east, or if it cannot stay ahead of the competition, the only appeal of Budapest will be its proximity to Vienna. But if Hungary’s position in the EU strengthens, and Budapest makes the shift to knowledge economy, the city’s value increases as well.
Another issue for the city is the state of the buildings. According to the studies, 70% of them will still be there in 2050, regardless of their condition. If the number of owners who have the money to renovate their own flat does not increase, the city will be in need of, not only building programs for new properties, but resources for the restoration of old tenements as well.
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