Article

Latent sprawl, divided Mediterranean landscapes: urban growth, swimming pools, and the socio-spatial structure of Athens, Greece

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  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona - Autonomous University of Barcelona
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Abstract

Although Mediterranean cities have inherent differences on a local scale, together they offer a kaleidoscopic overview of distinctive morphologies and patterns of socio-spatial segregation. In this study, we explore the distribution of residential swimming pools as indicators of the use of land and water at the metropolitan scale, in relation to recent changes in the socio-spatial structure of a large Mediterranean city (Athens, Greece). Our results indicate a polarized spatial distribution of swimming pools, still considered a luxury affordable only for a minor segment of the Greek population. The analysis highlights the spatial linkages between concentration of residential pools, class segregation and low-density settlements, indicating that the socio-spatial structure of Athens remains characterized by persistent disparities between rich and poor neighborhoods. Comparison with another Mediterranean city (Barcelona) demonstrates the peculiarity of Athens’ recent development as reflected in the fragmented and polarized urban structure. The study provides an alternative reading of recent Mediterranean urban growth by considering pools as a “landmark” for urban sprawl, producing contested landscapes of localized social segregation.

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This paper examines the drought that hit Athens between 1989 and 1991 and analyses the role of this natural phenomenon as the “ferment” for ongoing political-economic transformations in the direction of liberalisation and privatisation of water management and allocation in Greece. The paper analyses how the drought was marshalled as an effective discursive vehicle to facilitate and expedite the state-led neoliberal political-economic agenda. It shows how the social consensus around a number of “emergency measures” that the state adopted to deal with a “natural” crisis was grounded in a particular discourse on water and in the political-economic “positioning” of “nature” as a source of crisis. In turn, this change in the “discursive” production of nature fused with the rhetoric and practice of market-led development and privatisation and, ultimately, facilitated important transformations in the social and political-economic (material) production of nature.
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Postwar capitalist development has involved a transition from polarization toward diffuse urbanization and flexibility. The timing and form of this transition and its effects on spatial structures have varied, as is especially evident in the case of Mediterranean Europe. Focusing upon Greater Athens between 1948 and 1981 - the crucial period of the transition - Lila Leontidou explores the role of social classes in urban development. The emergence of new processes in cities such as Athens, Salonica, Rome, Naples, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon is different in both timing and manner from that of northern European cities, but, as Dr Leontidou argues, this should not be attributed to poverty or inexplicable cultural peculiarities. Instead interaction between popular spontaneity, economic forces and State control has played a major role.
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This paper quantifies the extent of exurban development in Mediterranean Europe. The assessment was carried out by studying changes in the urban-to-rural population density gradient between the years 1950 and 2010. Three of the six urban regions in this study have experienced population growth and moderate urban concentration, while two regions appear to be shifting toward population decline and urban de-concentration after having experienced compact expansion. A phase of recent re-urbanization has been observed in one region. Altogether, these findings indicate a common path of urban expansion among representative Mediterranean regions between 1950 and 1980 while, in the following period, the cities experienced distinct development phases. From this study, we conclude that exurban development is mainly the product of a shift from compact and dense to semi-compact and intermediate-density settlements. [Key words: semi-dense urban growth, density-distance curve, Mediterranean Europe].
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This revised edition, first published in 1977, contains a new introductory section by Tibor Scitovsky. It sets out to analyze the inherent defects of the market economy as an instrument of human improvement. Since publication, it is believed to have been very influential in the ecological movement and hence is considered to be relevant today. The book tries to give an economist's answer to three questions: Why has economic development become and remained so compelling a goal even though it gives disappointing results? Why has modern society become so concerned with distributional processes when the great majority of people can raise their living standards through increased production? Why has the 20th century seen a universal predominant trend toward collective provision and state regulation in economic areas at a time when individual freedom of action is widely extolled and is given unprecedented reign in non-economic areas? The book suggests that the current impasse on a number of key issues in the political economy of advanced nations is attributable, in part, to an outmoded perspective on the nature, and therefore, the promise of economic growth. The critique has some important implications for policy and opens up a range of policy issues. -after Author
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The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens has provided an opportunity to revisit the contemporary history of the Greek capital. A new city in the nineteenth century, Athens manifested over more than a century (1834-1922) the paradoxes of an artificial refoundation: meager demographic and economic destinies, internationalization outside the national elites, and surface grandiloquence of neoclassic public planning. The humiliating failure of the conquest of Asia Minor stopped these faltering attempts. Through half a century dramatic political uncertainties, the face of the present city was constructed: human and material concentration that controlled Greek space and the triumph of civil society over the state to reconfigure the central zone of the city and extend the agglomeration. Since the fall of the dictatorship (1979), Athens gained world stature as a result of the entrance of Greece into political Europe, international attraction to migrants, grandiose infrastructures, and symbolic monumentality. Beyond these specificities, Athens reveals the three ages of European capitals: international Enlightenment, organization of national territories, and metropolitan expansion of exchange.
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The relationship between form and function in European Mediterranean cities has been widely addressed from various perspectives. A number of studies indicate that, until the 1980s, compactness was a key trait of several cities of the Northern Mediterranean. However, after the ‘compact growth’ period, these cities experienced patterns of urbanization that differed from their traditional trends. Since the 1990s, sprawl, coupled with population decline in the inner cities, has become the main pattern of urban development. This article explores the key features of exurban development in the Mediterranean region in order to provide material for a discussion based on the differences and similarities in the characteristics of sprawl processes originating in the US and Northern Europe. It concludes that any debate on policy responses to sprawl must be specifically formulated according to the scope, administrative level, housing and planning system, territorial and socioeconomic characteristics of the urban system under examination. It is our belief that sprawl requires site-specific analyses and policy strategies for the region being studied if the process is to be effectively controlled.
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Urban sprawl is one of the most important types of land-use changes currently affecting Europe. It increasingly creates major impacts on the environment (via surface sealing, emissions by transport and ecosystem fragmentation); on the social structure of an area (by segregation, lifestyle changes and neglecting urban centres); and on the economy (via distributed production, land prices, and issues of scale). Urban Sprawl in Europe: landscapes, land-use change & policy explains the nature and dynamics of urban sprawl. The book is written in three parts. Part I considers contemporary definitions, theories and trends in European urban sprawl. In part II authors draw upon experiences from across Europe to consider urban sprawl from a number of perspectives. © 2007 Chris Couch, Lila Leontidou, Estate of Gerhard Petschel-Held.
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The present study explores the long-term changes (1971–2001) in the socio-economic structure of a monocentric Mediterranean urban region (Rome's province, central Italy) undergoing moderately polycentric development. Descriptive and correlation statistics and a multiway factor analysis (MFA) have been used to analyse the spatio-temporal evolution of 24 socio-economic indicators made available at the urban district/municipal scale. The socio-economic disparities observed along the urban-rural gradient in 1971 decreased only moderately in 2001. The MFA clearly separates urban districts from suburban municipalities in both 1971 and 2001. Results indicate that exurban development has impacted only partly Rome's urban form which remained mainly compact and dense with persisting socio-economic gaps between urban and suburban areas. The paper discusses the partial failure of Rome's master plan to promote a really polycentric development and a new, more sustainable, urban form.
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The growing literature on comparative European housing policy has played a major part in developing our understanding of the way housing in provided in different countries, and in the way the interaction between the stat, market and civil society is conceptualized. However, much of this analysis is rooted without question in the welfare states of northern Europe – there has been almost no research published in English on the provision of housing in southern Europe. Such research as exists deals with specific feature of housing policy, invariably in a single country. There is probably a better understanding of the housing systems of the former communist countries than those of southern Europe. Housing and Welfare in Southern Europe fills a major gap in the literature on comparative European housing policy. It shows how the relationship between state, market and civil society in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece is fundamentally different from northern Europe. By providing a southern view of housing provision, it throws new light on difficult social and housing policy issues throughout Europe. This book will be of direct interest to academics, policy makers and students involved in housing as it - Offers a fresh new way to analyse comparative housing policy and practices - Highlights the distinctive relationships among state, market, civil society and households in southern Europe - Draws out lessons for developing alternative models of housing provision
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Throughout its long history from the fifth century B.C. until today, the city of Athens managed to satisfy a gradually increasing urban demand for water supply with reserves obtained by the diversion of freshwater. At first, the water was displaced from the adjacent territories and with time from more distant basins, extending the water imprint of the city on its hinterland. This article traces the history of the development of successive water supply infrastructures, which has resulted in the current situation where Athens controls a significant amount of the water reserves of two (in a total of fourteen) Greek River Basin Districts (Attica and Western Sterea Ellada). With the exception of a short period of drought (1989–1993), no serious effort has ever been made by the decision makers to slow down the increase of urban per capita consumption in the city. The water imprint of Athens is also linked to the disposal of wastewater in the coastal waters of the Saronic Gulf, since wastewater treatment has been established from 1985 onwards. New lines of thinking are suggested for meeting the needs of the still-growing city of Athens without further increasing its water imprint.
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After the World War II the Mediterranean cities experienced important changes in their form becoming more compact and dense and then sprawling into larger areas. The complexity of causes and consequences involved in sprawl processes makes the classical models evaluating urban diffusion hardly applicable to the Mediterranean cities. Using descriptive statistics, regression analysis, and a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) this article investigates the changes (1920–2010) in the vertical profile of buildings in a traditionally compact urban region (Attica, Greece) taken as a paradigmatic example for hyper-dense cities in both developed and developing countries. The aim of this study is to illustrate how a widely-used indicator (the vertical profile of a city) may represent a proxy indicator of urban diffusion. The vertical profile of buildings has been changed in the investigated region towards densification with average building height passing from 1.3 floors in 1919 to 1.8 floors in 2009. However, both regression analysis and PCA revealed how the densification pattern has been shifting towards ‘horizontal’ rather than ‘vertical’ growth since the early 1990s. Low-density expansion areas possibly undergoing unsustainable land consumption and landscape fragmentation were identified according to the recent changes in the studied indicator. The findings illustrated in this article represent a potentially useful tool to monitor sprawl and the consequent land consumption in rapidly-changing urban landscapes.
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Characteristic of the Attic landscape is its great diversity. There are many mountains, plains, valleys, basins and hills. The geological background and the climate are varied. Man's impact on this landscape has a long history, because there were settlements and intense grazing even during the prehistoric period. There were, also, cultivations, especially olive orchards. The history of human impact on the Attic landscape is divided into different phases of landscape modification. The natural ecosystems of Attica and their present status are considered.
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Our study of the expansion of a representative sample of 30 cities showed that 28 of them expanded more than 16-fold during the twentieth century. More generally, cities are now expanding at twice their population growth rates, on average, and now cover almost 0.5% of the planet's land area. We created a new dataset comprising the universe of all 3646 named metropolitan agglomerations and cities that had populations in excess of 100,000 in the year 2000, their populations in that year, and their built-up area identified in the Mod500 map, currently the best of eight satellite-based global maps of urban land cover. Using this dataset, we estimated urban land cover in smaller cities and towns in all countries and calculated total urban land cover in every country in the year 2000. We then employed multiple regression models that could explain more than 90% of the variations in our urban land cover estimates amongst countries. Then, using U.N. urban population projections in combination with three realistic density change scenarios based on our previous global and historical study of densities, we projected urban land cover in every country and world region from 2000 to 2050. According to our medium projection, urban land cover in developing countries will increase from 300,000km2 in 2000 to 770,000km2 in 2030 and to 1,200,000km2 in 2050. Containing this expansion is likely to fail. Minimal preparations for accommodating it – realistic projection of urban land needs, the extension of metropolitan boundaries, acquiring the rights-of-way for an arterial road grid that can carry infrastructure and public transport, and the selective protection of open space from incursion by formal and informal land development – are now in order.
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“Lock living” refers to the importance of security design, consumed as a commodity, in the new suburban residential landscapes of Mediterranean cities. This article summarizes the process of urban sprawl that has developed in the cities of Southern Europe in recent decades. It presents the main consequences of this evolution, regarding changes in residential landscape. Mediterranean cities have been historically characterised by the archetypal image of density, urban complexity and social diversity. However, the increasing development of urban sprawl shows a very different urban scenario. Metropolitan spaces along the edges of the motorways and orbital ring roads are developing the type of residential landscape that was, until not so long ago, exclusively associated with the cities of the Anglo-Saxon urban tradition. New low-density residential areas show the proliferation of territories manifesting the same morphological criteria in different cities. From a cultural perspective, these standardised landscapes mean the production of residential areas designed on the basis of a thematization of the American suburb. This iconographic display dresses them up as private-urban-ecological-thematic paradises, as a residential landscape that becomes image more than territory and, in this sense, a commodity. This commodification process refers both to the residential space and the inhabitants’ lifestyles as the domestic landscape, created by private security, clearly shows.
Article
Competitiveness appears as a new element in the specific dynamics of the Mediterranean city. This paper explores the process of competitiveness at the local level, and the implications of the re-orientation of spatial planning priorities through case-study research. It looks at Athens, an example of a so-called ’winner’ city, which hosted successfully the 2004 Olympic Games. It examines by means of satellite imagery and GIS the changing patterns of land development in the metropolitan area. Olympics-related infrastructural investments, such as the new ring road and international airport, facilitated the efficient execution of the Games. Olympic development priorities, however, sidestepped stated planning directions on metropolitan growth. Evidence presented in this paper point to a land-use change trend in the urban periphery that takes the form of unordered expansion. Competitiveness agendas exacerbate unsustainable development tendencies, compromising future growth prospects.
Article
The economic, social, and environmental limits of supplying water to metropolitan areas through conventional means (reservoirs, water transfers, etc.) have resulted in growing consideration of demand management actions as well as in the use of non-conventional sources of supply. In terms of demand management, economic instruments (pricing and taxes), domestic water-saving technologies, and educational campaigns to encourage water saving during periods of drought have received special attention. While demand management policies have an effect on conserving water and therefore should be welcome, they present problems and uncertainties as well. Using the example of the metropolitan region of Barcelona, in this article I argue that water demand management policies may be insufficient for reaching their ultimate goal of controlled water consumption when confronted with structural changes in urban development such as the expansion of low-density growth, the multiplication of the number of households, or gains in income, all of which lead to a potentially greater demand for water. This calls for more integration of water policies with land use and urban development policies.
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1 Segregation, Polarisation and Social Exclusion in Metropolitan Areas Sako Musterd and Tim Ostendorf 2 Social Polarisation, Economic Restructuring and Welfare State Regimes Chris Hamnett 3 Assimilation and Exclusion in US Cities: The treatment of African-Americans and Immigrants Susan S. Fainstein 4 Chicago: Segregation and the New Urban Poverty Jerome L.Kaufman 5 The Wefare State, Economic Restructuring and Immigrant Flows: Impacts on Socio-Spatial Segregation in Greater Toronto Robert A. Murdie 6 Exclusion and Inclusion: Segregation and Deprivation in Belfast Fredrick W. Boal 7 Segregation, Exclusion and Housing in the Divided City Alan Murie 8 The Geography of Deprivation in Brussels and Local Development Strategies Christian Kesteloot 9 Ideologies, Social Exclusion and Spatial Segregation in Paris Paul White 10 Social Inequality, Segregation, and Urban Conflict: The Case of Hamburg Jurgen Friedrichs 11 Segregation and Social Participation in a Welfare State: The Case of Amsterdam Sako Musterd and Wim Ostendorf 12 The Divided City? Socio-Economic Changes in Stockholm Metropolitan Area 1970-94 Lars-Erik Borgegard, Eva Andersson and Susanne Hjort 13 (De)Segregation and (Des)Integration in South African Metropoles Anthony J. Christopher 14 Welfare State Effects on Inequality and Segregation: Concluding Remarks Herman van der Wusten and Sako Musterd
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Introduction: Theory and Method‘Astyphilia’ and Popular Spontaneous Suburbanisation Until the 1970sModernism and Urban Land Policy After EU AccessionToward the Entrepreneurial City and Post-Olympic LandscapesMega-events and Mediterranean Urban FuturesNotesReferences
Article
Swimming pools constitute an important part of the expanding suburban landscapes of many cities of southern Europe. Yet we know relatively little about their characteristics and especially about whether or not they capture a substantial part of urban water for the benefit of a few that could be used for other more essential tasks, especially in periods of scarcity. In this paper, taking the metropolitan region of Barcelona as a case study, we estimate the number of residential (private) swimming pools in this area, their characteristics and their water consumption. Our analysis is set against the context of important changes in the nature of the urbanisation process in Barcelona and in other southern European cities, namely the expansion of low-density growth and with this the expansion of outdoor water uses such as gardens planted with turf grass and swimming pools. However, results do not seem to support the assumption that swimming pools take a substantial part of the domestic water resources of the region or that they are a luxury affordable only by the very rich. Swimming pools represent little over 1 per cent of total domestic water consumption of the Barcelona region and they can be found in both higher and lower income municipalities. Nevertheless, swimming pools tend to be more often found in richer municipalities, which are also those observing higher per capita water consumption.
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The U.S. population is increasingly spreading out, moving to the suburbs, and migrating from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. This paper uses recent household-level data sets to study some of the environmental consequences of population suburbanization. It measures the increase in household driving, home fuel consumption, and land consumption brought about by population dispersion. Suburban households drive 31 percent more than their urban counterparts, and western households drive 35 percent more miles than northeastern households. Despite increased vehicle dependence, local air quality has not been degraded in sprawling areas, thanks to emissions controls. Technological innovation can mitigate the environmental consequences of resource-intensive suburbanization. © 2000 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
Article
This paper adopts a coevolutionary perspective to criticize the dominant narratives of water resource development. Such narratives of progress portray a sequence of improving water technologies that overcame environmental constraints, supplying more water to satisfy the demands of growing populations for better living. Water supply appears as the response to an insatiable demand, exogenous to the water system. Instead, as the history of water in Athens, Greece illustrates water supply and demand in fact coevolve, new supply generating higher demands, and in turn, higher demands favouring supply expansion over other alternatives. This vicious cycle expands the water footprint of cities degrading environments and communities in the countryside. Far from being predetermined and inevitable, as progressive narratives wants it, water resource development has been contingent on geographical and environmental conditions, institutional struggles, accidents, experiments and external geo-political and technological forces. In the last part of this paper, I discuss the policy implications of this coevolutionary reframing with respect to a the transition to a “soft water path”.
Article
Debates on the urban form have become strongly polarized between the advocates and opponents of the compact and of the dispersed or “sprawled” city. In this paper we argue that this may be the result of an excessive concentration on the study of the American experience and the neglect of other urban contexts, and examine the recent process of urban growth against the background of urban compactness and extreme densification represented by the Barcelona Metropolitan Region (BMR). The comparison of two detailed land-cover maps of 1993 and 2000 shows a progressive transformation in the traditional urban character of the region. Lower urban densities, high losses of non-urban land covers, depopulation of the metropolitan inner core, an increasing importance of single housing or the expansion of transportation infrastructures confirm the generalization of the dispersed urban model. However, the presence of numerous medium sized towns has also proved to be a deterrent of excessive dispersion. In conclusion, polycentric metropolitan areas such as the BMR may be more adjusted to absorb the negative effects of dispersion than monocentric areas.
Article
This paper explores the processes of deconcentration or suburbanization in the Barcelona metropolitan area in Catalonia, Spain. In it I describe the major social forces driving changing land-use patterns and posit the question: Is there a particularly Mediterranean form of urban deconcentration? Although the growing preference of Catalans for a life at the urban periphery in some ways mimics American patterns of suburbanization, I argue that there are limits to the applicability of Anglo-American theories of deconcentration for the Mediterranean city. After briefly setting out the historical context for urban development in Barcelona, I describe the changing morphology of the city in recent years and explore the major trends—the pursuit of security, immigration from the developing world, changing family structures, among others—that make the process of deconcentration in Barcelona particularly Mediterranean in character.
Article
Concern over the quality of modern life is a characteristic of contemporary society. This paper explains the social geographical approach to research into quality of life and urban environmental quality. A five-dimensional model for quality of life research is presented, and a number of key conceptual and methodological issues examined. Two exemplar case studies are employed to illustrate the application of the five-dimensional social geographical perspective in a real world context. Finally, the potential usefulness of quality of life research is assessed, and several conclusions advanced for future research.
Article
This paper deals with transformations of urban landscape in the era of globalization. First, it attempts to describe and understand how particular aspects of urban morphology, such as built heritage and innovative design of space, have become the competitive edge in terms of landscape. Second, it develops the argument that on the basis of their great potential for (a) promoting economic growth and (b) enhancing place identity of cities, both built heritage and innovative design of space appear to be expansively used as major components of contemporary strategic plans of cities for the transformation and improvement of urban landscape. Combining and promoting built heritage and innovative design of space as two central themes in urban landscape transformations generates, for the 21st century city, a new landscape collage dominated by two extremes: (a) that of tradition with rather local spatial references and (b) that of innovation having more universal or global spatial references. Thus, under the forces of globalization, the new emerging urban landscapes may be termed as “glocalised” ones. As a case study, Athens and the landscape transformations for Olympic Games 2004 are analysed.
Article
As anyone who has flown into Los Angeles at dusk or Houston at midday knows, urban areas today defy traditional notions of what a city is. Our old definitions of urban, suburban, and rural fail to capture the complexity of these vast regions with their superhighways, subdivisions, industrial areas, office parks, and resort areas pushing far out into the countryside. Detractors call it sprawl and assert that it is economically inefficient, socially inequitable, environmentally irresponsible, and aesthetically ugly. Robert Bruegmann calls it a logical consequence of economic growth and the democratization of society, with benefits that urban planners have failed to recognize. In his incisive history of the expanded city, Bruegmann overturns every assumption we have about sprawl. Taking a long view of urban development, he demonstrates that sprawl is neither recent nor particularly American but as old as cities themselves, just as characteristic of ancient Rome and eighteenth-century Paris as it is of Atlanta or Los Angeles. Nor is sprawl the disaster claimed by many contemporary observers. Although sprawl, like any settlement pattern, has undoubtedly produced problems that must be addressed, it has also provided millions of people with the kinds of mobility, privacy, and choice that were once the exclusive prerogatives of the rich and powerful. The first major book to strip urban sprawl of its pejorative connotations, Sprawl offers a completely new vision of the city and its growth. Bruegmann leads readers to the powerful conclusion that "in its immense complexity and constant change, the city-whether dense and concentrated at its core, looser and more sprawling in suburbia, or in the vast tracts of exurban penumbra that extend dozens, even hundreds, of miles-is the grandest and most marvelous work of mankind." “Largely missing from this debate [over sprawl] has been a sound and reasoned history of this pattern of living. With Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History, we now have one. What a pleasure it is: well-written, accessible and eager to challenge the current cant about sprawl.”—Joel Kotkin, The Wall Street Journal “There are scores of books offering ‘solutions’ to sprawl. Their authors would do well to read this book.”—Witold Rybczynski, Slate