Urbanization is the process of development of urban areas in parallel with the population shift to cities and economic growth.
The chaotic economic situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as the influx of about a million IDPs into cities, mainly the capital, Baku, as a result of the war in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, made natural development of urbanization in Azerbaijan informal. This process, usually caused by industrialization, was extremely painful.
The heavy in-migration to big cities in our country and population growth that was not concurrent with economic development have caused some important problems.
Unemployment: a plague not only for our country, but for the whole world. (Philosophers do not offer an unequivocal explanation for that.) The migration of unskilled workers from the countryside to the city increases the rate of open and disguised unemployment. Unemployment brings with it other problems, such as negative social deviations, degradation of moral values, increase in crime rate, etc.
Environmental pollution: Environmental pollution caused by industrialization has become a problem that threatens not only our social life, but also our planet. Today, air pollution, marine pollution, factory waste, etc. is one of the most important urban problems.
Noise pollution: The increase in the number and use of motor vehicles brought about by urbanization has created the problem of noise pollution. Over 100 million people in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries face the problem of noise pollution caused by motor vehicles.
Cultural discrepancy: Newcomers to the city naturally encounter new values and patterns of behavior, which results in the problem of adaptation of individuals to urban life. A significant proportion of urban migrants do not easily assimilate these values. This situation leads to intrafamilial conflicts.
For all its drawbacks, urbanization is a natural process that must be approached from the point of view of development and progress. What is important is to minimize the negative effects and problems of urbanization and make efforts to create a livable city.
More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. As a result of rapid urbanization, unplanned or poorly planned cities face migration issues. Thus, chaos and disorder reduce the quality of life of citizens. In 2008, for the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population was estimated to live in cities. Fundamental services such as adequate housing, water, sewerage, electricity and security are becoming particularly important in developing countries. Cities have an extremely serious impact on the environment and climate; rapid and unplanned urbanization, population growth and rapid development of technology threaten natural resources and cause environmental pollution.
According to statistics, the population of the world’s cities is growing by 1 million every week, and most of newcomers to the cities are poor. Abnormally rapid urbanization leads to poverty, and this poverty threatens the urban population the most.
The rapid growth and urbanization of the population in our day and age has led to many imbalances in the human–nature relationship, i.e., in the ecosystem. The production and distribution of raw materials and foodstuffs required by the growing urban population, the rapid increase in the number of vehicles, and the negative effects of industrialization and technological progress on the natural environment are grouped under the name of “environmental problems”.
The economic and social conditions created by the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the nineteenth century necessitated the emergence of the science of “social policy” as a reaction to the individualism of that time. We can say that the urbanization and technological development in the twentieth century has made the protection of natural and man-made environment one of the most important economic and social problems.
In capitalist countries, in particular, the individual’s efforts to maximize earnings make it difficult to find enough liability to cover the social expenditures of economic activity, and this cost is often paid by society. Manufacturers, or more precisely, industrialists, choose the cheapest methods to keep their profits at the highest level and dispose of industrial waste, turning a blind eye to environmental pollution.
That is, capitalism is responsible for the environmental crisis that has arisen in many areas during the current stage of imperialism. Cities also played their part in this process. Indeed, as Castells points out, “…the urban crisis is a particular form of the more general crisis linked to the contradiction between production forces and the relations of production.”
It should be noted that the still ongoing urbanization process in our country is manifesting its abnormal pains in a serious form. Of course, this is not a matter of 1 or 3 years. As mentioned earlier, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the war in the country and the serious economic and social problems it has caused have complicated this natural process.
As we can see, urbanization in architecture is not as simple as it seems. On the contrary, it is a very important, serious topic that requires serious attention. As Lefebvre put it, “architecture is nourished by irony and protest.”