To many observers, the city in its Third World incarnation is an awesome waste of human and environmental resources. It is easy to accumulate a list of modern city horrors: waterways in Bangkok, Manila, and Hong Kong fouled with sewage and industrial waste which sunshine turns into a toxin known as ‘red tides’; vast towns of poorly served shanties, which in Guatemala City encroach to the very edge of railway lines and spread deep into ravines scarred by a 1976 earthquake; epidemics of cholera sweep through the shanty towns of Peruvian cities, and are spreading to neighbouring Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil; the subsidence of cities such as Shanghai and Bangkok, due to excessive pumping of subterranean waters; chronic traffic jams as the number of vehicles increases far more rapidly than road capacity; air pollution so severe that in Mexico City outdoor exercise is ill-advised, while satellite photographs of north-east China fail to show the city of Benxi, buried beneath a layer of dirty air; and the sheer desolation of Manila’s Smokey Mountain, where a thousand poor, sick, and dying scavengers live on a rubbish dump. From such anecdotes it is possible to build a picture of a developing world where the physical fabric of towns has been stretched almost to breaking point.