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Ecumenopolis (from Greek: οἰκουμένη, meaning "world", and πόλις (polis) meaning "city", thus a city made of the whole world; pl. ecumenopolises or ecumenopoleis) is a word invented in 1967 by the Greek city planner Constantinos Doxiadis to represent the idea that in the future urban areas and megalopoleis would eventually fuse and there would be a single continuous worldwide city as a progression from the current urbanization and population growth trends. Before the word ecumenopolis had been coined, the American religious leader Thomas Lake Harris (1823–1906) mentioned city-planets in his verses, and science fiction author Isaac Asimov used the city-planet Trantor as the setting of some of his novels.
Doxiadis also created a scenario based on the traditions and trends of urban development of his time, predicting at first a European eperopolis ("continent city") which would be based on the area between London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
As a realistic futurist set of predictions
While the idea of one continuous global city plays itself out in a number of works of science fiction, the book itself was a serious attempt to consider long run landscape changes resulting from large scale urban expansion. It was never conceived that all land on Earth would be paved over; rather that urban development would extend in ribbons across land masses. A review of the current nighttime lights of the Earth reveals that this type of pattern has emerged in some places. This land development is highly correlated with economic development.
The total global population was modeled ranging from 15-50 billion. Doxiadis recognized constraints on development, and concluded a 15 billion global population, mostly concentrated along linear strips of urbanized development, was the likely scenario. It should be recognized that in this future growth scenario development would level off and be sustainable and that most of the global land area would remain open space.
- A future or alternative Earth, for example:
- The planet Trantor, capital of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series.
- The Chung-Kuo series by David Wingrove is primarily set 200 years in the future in mile-high, continent-spanning cities made of a super-plastic called "ice".
- Irk from Invader Zim Irken homeworld and imperial capital of the Irken Empire.
- Coruscant, and many others, from the Star Wars galaxy.
- The planet Helior, capital of the galactic empire in Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero.
- Hearth, the Pierson's Puppeteers' homeworld from Ringworld by Larry Niven.
- Several planets from the computer game series StarCraft.
- Ravnica: City of Guilds is both the name of the ecumenopolis and the name of a three-expansion block in the CCG, Magic: the Gathering.
- Byzantium Secundus, the capital of the Known Worlds in the Fading Suns game universe.
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- Ecumenopolis: Tomorrow's City Constantinos Doxiadis, Britannica Book of the year, 1968.