NMM project

 INURA Common Project

The New Metropolitan Mainstream is an INURA Project. Since 2008, members of INURA have developed a set of indicators and categories to compare cities. What are the common traits of global urban development? Which similarities and differences between cities can we detect? What are the consequences of different urban strategies for local people and everyday life? We like to share the provisional results of this research. Please enjoy and/or comment!

Posters with maps, texts and illustrations

At present, 36 cities are part of this project. Each city is represented by posters: Poster 1 is a map of the metropolitan area, marked with areas and locations relevant for the New Metropolitan Mainstream. Poster 2 contains four urban projects which are in some way “typical” for the actual situation in the city. All maps of all cities are on the same scale and use the same categories, with a few exceptions. The legend and the categories are explained on a separate page.

A hypothesis about contemporary urban development

The term “new metropolitan mainstream” was developed to decipher a broad range of phenomena that have recently emerged in cities around the world which have important impacts on urban development and everyday life. Under the conditions of planetary urbanization, cities have become strategic nodes of the global economy and of social life. Increased competition between cities leads to similar strategies for attracting capital investment and highly qualified labour, and similar standards and processes for urban planning and design. A prestigious blend of cultural amenities and offerings for luxury consumption is today part of the standard policy repertoire. Many contemporary cities both in the global North and in the global South are confronted with gentrification and urban regeneration, and have been equipped with skyscrapers, flagship projects, and “star” architecture. The new metropolitan mainstream has multiple faces and exists in many different versions. It is the aim of our project to describe and analyse this diversity.

A work in progress

The New Metropolitan Mainstream project was started in 2008. Analytical categories and standard framework settings were developed in a collective process. 36 local teams designed maps and posters of their cities using common indicators and criteria. Maps and posters were presented in a public exhibition at the 20th INURA conference 2010 in the Rote Fabrik Zurich. They are subsequently revised and published on the INURA website in October 2011.

Towards a book and an online mapping project

We are currently revising and restructuring the categories. New maps may be the result. Next steps are discussed in the INURA conference in Mexico City (Nov. 3–9, 2011) and in an interim meeting in Athens (February 16–19, 2012). Possible products of the project are a book with maps and comparative analyses as well as an interactive website.

Join the project

It is still possible for new local teams to join the project. Please post any comment and questions on our blog or send an e-mail to contact@inura.org.


The authors of the NMM project are members of the International Network for Urban Research and Action (INURA), a network of people interested and involved in the development of cities. The network was founded in 1991, in Salecina, Switzerland. Members come from different backgrounds and share a critical perspective on today’s economic, ecologic and social development of cities.



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