The Horizontal Metropolis

A Radical Project

The horizontal metropolis: an urban design concept for the future?


  • October 2019   approx. CHF 39.00 | eur 38.00


Title Information

Edited by Chiara Cavalieri and Paola Viganò. With contributions by Martina Barcelloni Corte, Chiara Cavalieri, Catherine Maumi, and Paola Viganò

1st edition

, 2019


approx. 240 pages, 50 color and 50 b/w illustrations

17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-062-6


Two contrasting terms are joined to conjugate the traditional idea of metropolis with horizontality; to combine the center of a vast territory—hierarchically organized, dense, vertical, and produced by polarization—with the idea of a more diffuse, isotropic urban condition, where center and periphery blur. Beyond a simplistic center versus periphery opposition, the concept of a horizontal metropolis reveals the dispersed condition as a potential asset, rather than a limit, to the construction of a sustainable and innovative urban dimension.

Around 1990, Terry McGee, an urban researcher at University of British Columbia, coined the term desakota, deriving from Indonesian “desa” (village) and “kota” (city). Desakota areas typically occur in Asia, especially South East Asia. The term describes an area situated outside the periurban zone, often sprawling alongside arterial and communication roads, sometimes from one agglomeration to the next. They are characterized by high population density and intensive agricultural use, but differ from densely populated rural areas by more urban-like characteristics.
The new book The Horizontal Metropolis investigates such areas alongside examples in the US, Italy, and Switzerland. The study highlights the advantages of the concept and its relevance under economical, ecological, and social aspects. The concept reflects a vision of global urbanization that does no longer allow for “outside” areas and that will test the urban ecosystem to its limits.

Authors & Editors

Martina Barcelloni Corte

Chiara Cavalieri

 is an architect and urbanist. She works as a resrearcher and lecturer at Università IUAV di Venezia and as a post-doc researcher at EPFL in Lausanne.

Catherine Maumi

Paola Viganò

 is co-founder of the Milano-based urban design firm Studio 015. She also teaches as a professor of urban theory and design at at Università IUAV di Venezia and at EPFL in Lausanne.