The Spatial Functionality of Rural Spaces to Urban Needs

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  • Title: The Spatial Functionality of Rural Spaces to Urban Needs
  • Author(s): Maryam Shafiei, Paola Leardini
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Global Studies
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies
  • Keywords: Globalization, Rural Definition, Rural Transformation, Urbanization
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2324-755X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2324-7568 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Shafiei, Maryam, and Paola Leardini. 2018. "The Spatial Functionality of Rural Spaces to Urban Needs." The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies 13 (2): 45-60. doi:10.18848/2324-755X/CGP/v13i02/45-60.
  • Extent: 16 pages


Worldwide, rural spaces have been recognized as custodians of traditional values in terms of built environment, society, and culture, yet they have been transformed at a very high pace in recent years. Once valuable architectural and cultural heritage sites, they have progressively become mostly “functional” to the extensive range of urban needs. This process has had remarkable ramifications and impact on the structure of the villages, particularly the preservation of their original characteristics. As a result of globalization, fast urbanization, and technological advancement, all promoting further connectivity of rural and urban spaces, rural areas have turned either into conquerable land to accommodate urban industrial, commercial, or residential needs or leisure destinations for urban inhabitants. These new vocations compete with the more traditional and essential capacity of rural land to support urban zones with food and natural resources. However, the significant share of urban studies addressing rural transformation has overlooked the connection between the prosperity of urban communities and noticeable alterations of the rural sector. Following critical analysis of available literature and delving into the shifts of key attributes of rural spaces, including their demographic, economic, morphological, cultural, and environmental characteristics, this article provides insights of tangible and intangible aftermaths of recent rural changes worldwide. It scrutinizes recent unprecedented transmutations of rural spaces and highlights the significance of this phenomenon for the socio-cultural structure of rural settlements. The article then highlights the needs for in-depth analysis of such changes in specific contexts and, therefore, it uses Iran as a case study to briefly explore context-specific rural changes in recent decades. After examining the most common definitions of rural spaces, the article brings up the inquiry of whether the countryside, and its settlements, can still be considered as rural.