ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Structure Of European Cities: East Versus West

Updated on October 24, 2013

Any large metropolitan city will contain a core of residential, industrial and service functions. The spatial location of these functions - the structure of the city - will be determined by the decisions both of those who perform and those who use these functions. These decisions will be based on two key mechanisms, the market and the plan, which will operate, in different proportions, in every city’s development. This hub will address to what extent the relative dominance of the plan in Eastern Europe and the market in Western Europe has affected the structure of urban areas in these two regions.

The West European City

Attempts to delineate the structure of the West European city usually involve applying and extending the classic zonal and sectoral patterns of Burgess and Hoyt to the particular European setting. Mann produced a model based on work in three northern English cities where the relative location of industry and middle-class housing was determined by the prevailing wind direction. Middle-class housing and commuting ‘villages’ are generally located such that industrial fumes do not blow over these properties: in Britain this means that they are to be found in the south and west of the city. Robson studied several British cities and concluded that both sectoral and concentric zonal patterns could be detected, with house age concentrically organised and socio-economic groups structured sectorally. If these concepts of cities having a concentric and/ or sectoral structure do in part survive being transplanted from the American models of Burgess and Hoyt, there are perhaps two important differences between the typical
American and West European city:

  1. the city core in European cities retains the function of a high status residential area to a greater degree than in American cities, particularly in cities with a rich history where prestige is gained from living in historic areas.
  2. the inner city areas of European cities are more mixed than in America with a
    combination of economic and residential functions and a more concentrated industrial
    zone between the inner city and the suburbs. Burgess’ gradation of CBD - zone in
    transition - lower class housing - middle class housing, a simplification in any city, is even less applicable where economic and industrial functions are thoroughly intermingled with housing.

Some typical East European housing estates.
Some typical East European housing estates.

The East European City

Socialist thinking on the city

The essential principle behind socialist ideas on the structure of cities was that the organisation of functions and land uses be tightly planned with the aim of maximising the quality of life of the urban population. Developments and indeed the whole layout of the city would be justified not on their profitability through rents and loan repayments, but in terms of whether people were provided with a fuller set of public services - housing, public transport, hospitals - and so enjoyed a higher standard of living. In addition to upgrading and equalising the provision of public services, socialist planners also sought to limit excess urban sprawl and reduce commuting. The extent of land given over to open space and amenities such as children’s playgrounds was also to be expanded. The effect of these policies was to make cities polynuclear with a network of self-contained and well-serviced urban centres. Each residential district would consist of a series of multi-storey blocks, in theory supposed to foster a sense of community, and with most basic services easily accessible.

The East European housing estate

An example of a typical housing estate from the socialist period in East Europe can be illustrated with a case from Warsaw, Poland. Earlier patterns of residential development are quite different with housing built before World War II forming continuous footages to the road. In contrast, new estates from the 1960s are taller, separated from each other by open space and play areas, and insulated from major roads by belts of trees and neighbourhood service roads. Much of this housing was depressingly uniform, with standardised buildings built of prefabricated materials and with an onus on quantity and not quality. By the 1970s, estates were built with a more varied layout and design, at a cost of having to accommodate a greater density of occupants. The building of these residential neighbourhoods was by far the most significant impact of the socialist period on the landscape of East European cities. Typically, housing densities do not decline from city centre to periphery, as assumed by Burgess, but will often increase with the transition from the older inner city to the ‘high rise’ periphery. Though the overall population density may appear to decline, this reflects the decreasing frequency of the new residential estates with distance from the centre. In marked contrast to Western cities, the East European city have no suburbs, only high rise tower blocks stretching out to the edge of the urban area.

The centre of Prague.
The centre of Prague.

New Centres

Another important dimension to the EastEuropean city was the development of a new
city centre. Where the old city had been destroyed in World War II - for example Berlin and Warsaw - it could be rebuilt on planned lines; alternatively an entirely new site would be used as the new focus of political and administrative control, as was the case in Katowice, Poland. These new or rebuilt city centres would include large squares and thoroughfares to cater for large processions and symbolic gatherings of loyal citizens. New monuments, museums and memorials remind citizens of significant revolutionary events. These cultural and political functions occupy the central sites which in the West would be taken by retail and commercial functions - shopping and other services are provided on the housing estates. Overseas visitors would usually only see these grand city centres and never the more drab residential districts. Such city centres were geared more to putting across the socialist version of history to both local and overseas peoples than to serving the local population.

Conclusions: the convergence of planning ideas

The East European city is characterised by the style and number of residential estates and by the use of a new or rebuild centre for purposes of social control. These features owe more to political expediency than a coherent fulfillment of socialist theories. The demise of socialism has inevitably prompted a lessening of the grip of the planners and the renewed role of private investment in structuring East European cities. In effect, East European planning is resembling ever more West European planning and the East European city is becoming closer in its geography to the West European city. East European cities are already experiencing a differentiation of (private) rents rather than the essentially equal pricing of state housing. Along the same lines, suburbanisation is occurring, as those that can afford it, prefer to live in more spacious surroundings out of town. Planning in East European cities is becoming more specifically urban again as power is decentralised from the central government to the relevant local authorities. The spectrum of European cities is narrowing.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      mother fucker 

      2 years ago

      thanks

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)