What is a region?

Regions are not just for urban planners. They are a case study for anyone that cares about how humans live in the 21st century. They represent a unique opportunity for economic and social growth. With instantaneous information transfer and the subsequent shrinking of distances, existing municipal, social, economic, and political boundaries are no longer sufficient to tackle urban challenges.


Regions are unbound by physical borders. Scales of regions vary depending on their connections. Digital infrastructure has collapsed distances to allow transfer of information to take place at every scale. Understanding the various regional scales helps us understand a different scale through which we connect as humans.

Global Region

A global region is a network of cities across the globe that has strong connections based on economic factors.

Example: New York-London-Hong Kong: The largest economic zones in the world that constantly interact for business.

Megalopolis Region

A megalopolis zone is a region made up of more than one metropolis.

Example: New York-Toronto-Chicago: Three large cities acting as the gateways to their regions that also form a larger region for economic and cultural activities around the Great Lakes and the US North East.

Mega Region

A mega region is a large network of metropolitan regions or municipalities that share several or all regional characteristics and connections, including land use patterns, topography and infrastructure.

Example: The GGH was stated a mega region by the Places to Grow Act in 2004, focusing on economic growth.

Typologies of Regions

Each region looks and functions differently as a whole based on geographical, philosophical, and historical factors. Yet we can classify regions under two main typologies that display the macro flow of connections within them.


A region with multiple urban centres interacting with each other.

Example: The Greater Golden Horseshoe Region, Canada


A region with a large urban centre and other smaller areas surrounding it.

Example: The Chicago Region, USA

Regional Symbiosis

Regional symbiosis, or symbiosis, is the functional element of the complex and evolving network of connections, or their relationships. By understanding the value of symbiotic relationships we will be able to use them to develop a stronger regional system for people to live in. Every regional connection, whether it is an economic exchange or infrastructure development, changes depending on the circumstances affecting its relationship. These types of relationships can be categorized into three broad categories.

Top Heavy

An area sharing resources of another area in usually a one-sided relationship. This can be seen in connections through natural systems.

Example: 40% of the world's population lives in 250 major river basins. Downstream users are constantly affected by upstream use of water.


Areas that are dependent on other areas in order to function without adversely affecting the other area's resources. This can be seen in civic connections.

Example: The proposal for a high speed rail line that would connect Toronto to Windsor and the US border is largely motivated for its greater access and connectivity with the the United States. Along the way, the train would pass through rust belt communities of Southwestern Ontario, which have been economically depressed since the decline of manufacturing, potentially offering renewed investment and economic vitality to the region.


Areas are interdependent on each other for growth. This can be seen in economic connections.

Example: The relationship between the pharmaceutical cluster in Mississauga and Toronto's medical research cluster connect two industries that support each other economically.

There are an unlimited amount of unique connections seen in a region.