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Urban Sprawl: Causes and Results of Haphazard Urbanization

Written by Yusuf Deniz Kuten

Unplanned urbanization is the emergence of a housing problem in the city as a result of the migration of a part of the population in rural settlements to big cities due to the development of industry and the abundance of job opportunities in big cities, and the construction of randomly incompatible buildings to fill the housing deficiency. It affects the cultural, environmental, and economic systems of the cities, spoils the city structure, and causes various infrastructure problems.

Unplanned urbanization emerged after the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. After the invention of the steam machine in England, small workshops in Europe were replaced by large factories using machines [1]. This situation created a need for workers to work in factories, and a large wave of migration from rural areas to cities began. With the increase in the population, workers’ neighborhoods with poor quality and cramped houses were created outside the city center in order to meet the housing needs [2]. After this date, industrial developments continued and globally spread. As a result, the rural population has decreased over the years, and the population of cities has increased.

Another reason for unplanned urbanization is immigrants from foreign countries and ethnic minorities. These people, who come from different ethnic backgrounds, created their living units outside the city because they were mostly excluded and could not adapt. These slum-like settlements were called “ghettos,” close to factories and instrumental in integrating rural life into city life [3]. Also, these ghettos created a synthesis between the cultures of individuals from different ethnic groups and the cultures of the countries they came from. For example, in America, musical genres such as jazz and rock emerged from this synthesis. The fact that cities became increasingly cosmopolitan and the existence of different ethnic groups and cultures naturally led to some problems; however, people in the city got used to each other and influenced each other's cultures.

The increasing population of cities and the resulting unplanned urbanization have had different consequences. For example, with the increase in population, transportation systems become inadequate, and traffic problems occur. With the expansion of the residential area, natural life is negatively affected, and habitat loss occurs. One of the most important consequences is the disruption of infrastructure services due to overpopulation [4]. Air pollution and environmental pollution are other important problems caused by unplanned urbanization. The increasing exhaust gas emission rates of big cities also reveal this problem.

There are some solutions to the problem of unplanned urbanization, which poses a problem for society in many ways. First of all, the construction of such structures should be inspected and prevented. Effective urban planning should be carried out and such slums should be replaced with structures that can meet the shelter needs and are compatible with the city structure through urban transformation projects. Slum residents should also be further integrated into society.

Unplanned urbanization started with the construction of random, irregular houses to accommodate people migrating from villages to cities with the industrialization process. It became increasingly widespread with the increase in the population of big cities. Slums, which turned into the living spaces of people from different cultures, have created a unique cultural synthesis over time. Some of the problems caused by unplanned urbanization are the inadequacy of city infrastructures in the face of high population, irregular settlements damaging the city's physical appearance, and disruption of transportation due to traffic congestion. In conclusion, implementing infrastructure investments and urban transformation projects is a necessity to combat unplanned urbanization.


  1. Berktaş, S., Oraklıbel, Dimli, R. (2021, 19 Şubat). SANAYİ DEVRİMİ ile GELEN DEĞİŞİM: İŞ BÖLÜMÜ ve YABANCILAŞMA .


  3. Danış, M.S., Karakaş, M. (2021). Türkiye’de Gecekondu Araştırmaları.

  4. Özdemir, E. (2018). Modernizm, Kentleşme ve Türkiye.


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