Planning and Design for Sustainable Places Lab

 

Contact:

Davide Geneletti

via Mesiano, 77 I-38123 Trento, Italy

davide.geneletti@unitn.it

Phone: +39 0461 282685

 

   authors: 

 

C. Cortinovis

D. Haase

B. Zanon

 

D. Geneletti

 

   journal: 

 

Landscape and Urban Planning, 181:22-37.

 

   links: 

Is urban spatial development on the right track? Comparing strategies and trends in the European Union

Abstract

 

Urban spatial development is a crucial issue for spatial planning and urban governance, ultimately determining cities’ sustainability. While a set of spatial strategies to address urban development are progressively gaining international consensus, their actual applicability is still contested. An interesting test-bed is represented by the European Union (EU), where common spatial strategies have been discussed since 1993. This paper aims to identify the main spatial strategies promoted at the EU-level and to investigate whether the recent spatial development trends of EU cities have been following the directions suggested by the strategies. By analysing 30 policy documents, we identified six main strategies: compact city, urban regeneration, functional mix, no land take, green city, and high density. For each strategy, we selected a set of indicators and applied them to the analysis of 175 cities representative of the variety of conditions across the EU.

Most cities progressed towards compact city and functional mix, but almost none halted land take. Urban regeneration was more intense in Northern and Western cities, while Southern cities show the most significant increase in green spaces. Growing cities achieved a higher density, but expanded inefficiently producing abandonment of urbanized areas and fragmentation of agricultural land. Shrinking cities continued in the paradox of contemporary population loss and expansion already observed by previous studies. The results highlight potential conflicts and trade-offs in the implementation of the strategies. Similar analyses can stimulate comparison, exchange, and cooperation among cities, thus supporting the mainstreaming of non-prescriptive strategies formulated at the international level.

   authors: 

 

F. Orsi

 

   journal: 

 

Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 73, 157-170.

 

   links: 

Centrally located yet close to nature: A prescriptive agent-based model for urban design

Abstract

 

A common dilemma for planners is how to design urban settlements that give people easy access to a center and nature. Difficulties arise because each household's access to such elements is a function of other households' location and the set of potential arrangements is constrained by the households' degree of acceptance of different density levels. This paper suggests the ideal arrangement of built-up and green areas may be identified by simulating in an agent-based model (ABM) the interactions of virtual households that try to find the best residential location based on their preferences towards distance from the center, proximity to green space and density.

Simulations showed that the ABM can, iteration after iteration, develop progressively better configurations and eventually get to an equilibrium if households' locational choice is driven not only by the maximization of individual utility, but also the preservation of the neighbors' well-being. Model's outputs suggest that compact settlements with an even distribution of green spaces offer the greatest benefits to their inhabitants, and that larger green areas are to be preferred when the population is less sensitive to density and/or the travel to the center is faster along some directions. Application of a rent formation model on the configurations generated by the ABM shows that these are relatively equitable, as lower income households could afford at least half of all locations. Future improvements can turn this model into a suitable tool for designing new settlements, guiding the densification of existing settlements or defining zoning regulations.

 
 

   authors: 

 

P. Picchi

 

M. van Lierop 

 

D. Geneletti

 

S. Stremke

 

   journal: 

Ecosystem Services, 35:241-259

 

   links: 

Advancing the relationship between renewable energy and ecosystem services for landscape planning and design: A literature review

Abstract

 

The transition to a low carbon future is starting to affect landscapes around the world. In order for this landscape transformation to be sustainable, renewable energy technologies should not cause critical trade-offs between the provision of energy and that of other ecosystem services such as food production. This literature review advances the body of knowledge on sustainable energy transition with special focus on ecosystem services-based approaches and methods. Two key issues emerge from this review: only one sixth of the published applications on the relation between renewable energy and landscape make use of the ecosystem service framework. Secondly, the applications that do address ecosystem services for landscape planning and design lack efficient methods and spatial reference systems that accommodate both cultural and regulating ecosystem services. Future research efforts should be directed to further advancing the spatial reference systems, the use of participatory mapping and landscape visualizations tools for cultural ecosystem services and the elaboration of landscape design principles.

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

Ecosystem Services, 38:100946

 

   links: 

A framework to explore the effects of urban planning decisions on regulating ecosystem services in cities

Abstract

 

Urban planning is the most relevant decision-making process affecting urban regulating ecosystem services. However, a clear understanding of the effects of planning decisions on both the supply and demand of urban regulating ecosystem services is still lacking. To support planners in enhancing urban regulating ecosystem services, there is a need to understand what variables are at stake and how changes in planning-related variables may affect urban regulating ecosystem services. The article presents a conceptual framework that describes how capacity, demand, and flow of urban regulating ecosystem services, and related benefits, are linked to the main variables controlled by urban planning, i.e. the location, typology, and size of urban green infrastructure, and the spatial distribution and vulnerability profile of population and physical assets. The variables and links described in the framework are then detailed for seven urban regulating ecosystem services. The analysis reveals, for each service, what are the main levers on which planners can act to shape the amount and spatial distribution of urban regulating ecosystem services and related benefits across the city. Uses and limitations of the proposed framework are discussed, and some key messages are drawn for planners on how to operationalise the findings. 

 

   authors: 

 

J. Babi Almenar

A. Bolowich,

T. Elliot, 

 

D. Geneletti

G. Sonnemann, 

 

B. Rugani, 

   journal: 

Landscape and Urban Planning, 189: 335-351

 

Assessing habitat loss, fragmentation and ecological connectivity in Luxembourg to support spatial planning

Abstract

 

The increasing global population requires new infrastructure and urban development, and these land use changes have an impact on habitats and their ecological connectivity. To anticipate and minimise these impacts, environmental and urban planners require tools and methods that they can use at early planning stages. This paper investigates and selects landscape ecology techniques that can be used by planners to assess the effects in terms of changes in habitat loss, fragmentation and ecological connectivity due to expected land use changes. The selected techniques were tested in Luxembourg. Twelve landscape metrics, four connectivity indices, and one connectivity model were selected based on their straightforwardness, widespread application, and accessibility. Land cover maps and proposed areas of urban development up to 2030 were used as input data, together with adapted resistance surfaces from previous studies and a matrix of presence/absence for six target species. The combined analysis reveals a trend of increasing habitat fragmentation and loss of habitats, as well as a reduction of ecological connectivity with regard to all the targeted species, and suggests that this trend will likely continue in the near future. The selected landscape metrics, connectivity indices, the connectivity model and the software used to run them makes the abovementioned techniques easy to use by non-experts, and their combination helps to reduce some of the limitations of each individual technique. Both aspects might be useful in order to mainstream the use of landscape ecology techniques in spatial planning processes.

   links: 

 

   authors: 

   journal: 

Cities, 91:93-105

 

Urban climate change mitigation and adaptation planning: Are Italian cities ready?

Abstract

 

Climate Action Planning is one of the top priorities of cities in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening climate-resilience, as pointed out by the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

This study aims at assessing the development of climate change mitigation and adaptation planning in Italian cities. To this end, we analysed the availability of Local Climate Plans (LCPs) in 76 cities, which are included in the Eurostat Urban Audit (UA-2015) database. In a further step, we analysed the content of the urban climate change mitigation and adaptation plans available in a smaller sample of 32 Italian cities of 2007 Eurostat Urban Audit database (UA-3), looking at the single actions undertaken for addressing mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Results show the almost total absence of comprehensive and stand-alone urban climate change adaptation plans in Italy (except for two cities, Ancona and Bologna), whereas we found that in 61 out of 76 cities municipal civil protection plans are the instruments that deal with local emergencies associated to extreme weather events. On the other hand, 56 out of 76 urban climate change mitigation plans (i.e. Sustainable Energy Action Plans) are being developed in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors, which is a transnational network of local governments created by the European Union (EU) in 2012. The results obtained on the mitigation side point out that, in absence of a national law that imposes Italian cities to develop LCPs, transnational networks are an effective boost to voluntary commitment to reach EU climate and energy objectives.

   links: 

 

   authors: 

N. Mukherjee,

 

D.C. Rose, 

 

M. Everard,

 

D. Geneletti

W. J. Surtherland

   journal: 

Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10:3

 

   links: 

Response to Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology and methods

Abstract

 

  1. In a previous series of papers (Sutherland, Dicks, Everard, & Geneletti, 2018), we summarise the use of a range of social science methods in conservation decision‐making. Moon et al. (2019) claim that the special feature risks narrowing the scope of social science research and suggest that we presented a limited perspective on the field. They thereby criticise the special feature for not doing something that it never intended to do in the first instance. We did not claim that the list of articles covered in the special feature is a comprehensive list (which it obviously is not) and we are unclear why anyone would think it is.

  2. While we consider the Moon et al. (2019) paper to be a useful contribution for conservation scientists as a supplementary paper, it serves less as a critique to the special feature. Moon et al.('s (2019) paper makes very few direct and substantive criticisms of points raised in the special feature. We respond to areas of contention referring specifically to research philosophy, bias, and data reporting.

  3. Moon et al. (2019) criticise the set of papers for perpetuating an objectivist view of the world. We believe that it would be rather disconcerting for the research community if there were no social truths to discover. Rather, social science research methods conducted in specific places can be good ways of exploring how truths vary in different contexts.

  4. We also note that Moon et al. (2019) completely missed the point we were trying to make about psychological biases, which are quite different to the issues associated with researcher bias highlighted by them.

  5. We encourage readers to pay close attention to the use of social science methods in conservation science. We reiterate, however, that the main purpose of the special feature was to ensure that social science methodologies for decision‐making are accessible for all conservation scientists to use, regardless of disciplinary background.