The Complexity of the City, Sustainable Cities Possible or an Impossible: A Critical Review

Tamer Gado, Husam Al Waer, Hisham Moustafa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Half of the earth population is living in dense urban areas, today, while only
a third of the population lived in cities in the 1950’s. This phenomenon clearly
states that there is an increase in the demand for city lifestyle, leading to the
emergence of the sustainable city concept. The literature revealed a variety of
definitions and descriptions for sustainability and sustainable cities in their
complex shapes and sizes with a wide range of strategies, frameworks, phrases,
concepts, indexes and indicators. This controversy created a huge diversity of
opinion and confusion to the literal performance of the term “Sustainability”
and “sustainability indicators” and to accentuate the vagueness of indicators
two principles - acclaimed as the most successful philosophies - for how a
sustainable city should perform are compared. They are: 1) The commission of
Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) for sustainable cities and 2) The
ten principles of Melbourne.
The Ultimate aim of this paper is to identify the key limitations of existing
principles and discuss the philosophy of control that sustainability imposed on
cities and how it should be relinquished to the citizens. It presents a critical
review of different related concepts including sustainable, eco, liveable and
intelligent cities. The results indicate that the concept of sustainability is not an
erroneous idea but stakeholders need to evolve the concept in itself. The
Sustainability concept is vulnerable and due to its vagueness it lead to the
emergence of the Integral City which gave a more refined definition for the city
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe second international conference on sustainable architecture and urban development (SAUD)
Subtitle of host publicationThe center for the study of architecture in the Arab region (CSAAR)
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2010


  • Sustainable cities
  • socio-ecological city
  • Vagueness of sustainability
  • Melbourne Principles
  • CABE
  • Eco-City
  • Intelligent City
  • Integral City
  • City Participation
  • Control


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