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Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development

Compact City as a Model
Achieving Sustainable
Elisa Conticelli
Department of Architecture, School of
Engineering and Architecture, Alma Mater
Studiorum University of Bologna, Bologna,
High density city;Mixed-use city;Transit-
oriented city
There is not a common denition of compact city
in literature, indeed this concept is one of the most
discussed in contemporary urban policy. Never-
theless, the compact city model is expected to
improve citiesenvironmental, social, and eco-
nomic performance, by inuencing the use of
space and by integrating different urban policies.
The compact city denition can be structured
with reference to the following approaches: to
increase built area and residential population den-
sities; to intensify urban economic, social and
cultural activities and to manipulate urban size,
form and structure and settlement systems in pur-
suit of the environmental, social and global
sustainability benets derived from the concentra-
tion of urban functions(Burgess 2000, pp. 910).
The 2012 OECD Report on Compact City
Policies gives a synthetic denition of the com-
pact city as a Spatial urban form characterized by
compactness’” and with some key characteris-
tics as: (i) dense and proximate development pat-
terns; (ii) urban areas linked by public transport
systems; and (iii) accessibility to local services
and jobs(OECD 2012, p. 26).
Therefore, the compact city concept in the
framework of sustainable development does not
only mean to enhance urban density but rather to
combine the quantitative concept of density
within other goals and requirements aiming to
undertake high levels of economic viability, envi-
ronmental quality, social equity in the urban
The Controversial Paradigm of the
Compact City
The compact city model has always been a con-
troversial and discussed concept, characterizing
the last 150 years of urban policies. More recently
it has been associated with the sustainability
imperatives thus gaining a wide consensus
among the urban planning strategies developed
worldwide and ghting against dispersed settle-
ments and mono-functional suburbs. At the same
time, also with the appearance of new urban
issues, such as climate change effects and new
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
W. Leal et al.(eds.), Sustainable Cities and Communities, Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals,
territorial risks, it has received several critiques as
well, making the compact city model more and
more complex and rather discussed for promoting
a real sustainable development.
From the Ancient to the Spread City
The compact city concept arose with the origin of
cities. They were exemplied by dense and very
small areas surrounded by walls, where residents
carefully allocated space to residential areas, pub-
lic squares, and roads. The main and widely rec-
ognized model of compact city is the medieval
city. Indeed, in the Middle Age urban density
within the city walls was high and the city was
compact and mixed use since people lived and
worked in a conned space. This dense structure
encouraged concentration of activities and of new
inhabitants rather than new expansions. This form
was developed in most European cities during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as
the central parts of many older cities in North
America, Australia, and New Zealand, to ensure
destinations were within a reasonable walking
distance (Newman 1992).
During the industrial revolution in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries, city walls were gradually
destroyed in all those cities where industrial, trans-
port, and port activities were more developed. The
original urban order and the ancient compact city
form came to an end. These new economies
attracted large numbers of people from rural areas,
giving birth to a new and rapid urban growth, thus
producing a physical explosion of the urban fabric
as well as big health problems due to the lack of
capacity in sewage and garbage disposal and the
co-existence of polluting rms and overcrowded
The spread development of passenger trains
and trams coincided with massive urbanization
throughout Europe, North America, and Austral-
asia (Newman 1992).
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
the compact city became both a tool for containing
uncontrolled urban expansions and a critical
model to be overcome in order to ensure better
urban living conditions. Consequently, greenbelt
policies were developed in several European cities
as a planning tool for limiting urban expansions
through new green boundaries, following the
removal of city walls (Kühn 2003). Ebenezer
Howard theorized the Garden Cityconcept,
based on a greenbelt hosting agricultural and rec-
reational activities developed around a city for
limiting its expansion. The fundamental aim of
greenbelt policy was to prevent urban sprawl by
keeping land permanently open. Especially in
UK, greenbelts have become an important part
of the National policy during the twentieth cen-
tury, but other European cities such as Vienna,
Barcelona, Budapest, and Berlin have followed
this tradition (Kühn 2003) and several other
non-European cities such as Washington, DC,
Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Sydney, and Mel-
bourne adopted this policy (Tang et al. 2007). At
the same time the Garden city theory looked
beyond the city borders by foreseeing to establish
new self-sufcient Garden Cities, which would
house a socially mixed population and would be
surrounded by greenbelts. This regional,
decentralizing vision gained relevance not only
in Europe but also in Russia, where the abolition
of old cities and the dispersion of populations into
the countryside was encouraged (Hirt 2007) and
in the USA, where Frank Lloyd Wright theorized
Broadacre City, a radical dispersal scheme where
each lot was at least 1 acre. The inuence of these
utopias favored the uncontrolled spread of low-
density suburbs, especially around North Ameri-
can, Australian, and New Zealand cities. More-
over, the introduction of the automobile occurred
during the rst decades of the twentieth century,
ensured people to be not obliged to live in the city
or close to a transit station anymore, but to escape
pollution and noise by living outside the city,
using their private motorized vehicle to reach
their place of employment every day and any
other destination. The direct consequence was
the development of low-density suburban sprawl
and the decentralization of cities since the early
twentieth century, which characterized mostly
North American, Australian, and New Zealand
cities (Arbury 2006) as well as the European cities
after the Second World War.
2 Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development
Rediscovering the Compact City for Achieving
Sustainable Development
During the 1960s the negative effects due to urban
sprawl became evident as a social issue, especially
in the USA. Indeed, the sprawl of suburbs gener-
ated segregation, the loss of community values,
and less leisure time, due to the longer commuting
times. The planning theories and practices that
strongly opposed to density in the urban context
till the beginning of 1900 were progressively
questioned and density has been rediscovered as
a condition favoring the mix of human prefer-
ences, social diversity, uses, activities,
etc. (Moroni 2016). The rst endorsements to
more compact settlements came from the social
sciences. Indeed, Jane Jacobs, an American soci-
ologist, argued that the city, with its vitality, mix
of uses and traditions, rather than low-density
suburbs, represented the most desirable form of
development (Jacobs 1961), by implicitly refer-
ring to compact citys main features. In her studies
she supported compact city neighborhoods where
different kinds of households and individuals live
together, establishing relationships more easily
than in dispersed single-use, single family
Since 1970s, the awareness of the negative
effects due to urban sprawl further increased,
affecting not only social aspects but also environ-
mental consequences, thus pushing towards the
promotion of more compact settlements.
The 1987 World Commission on Environment
and Developments Our Common Future (WCED
1987), also known as the Brundtland Report,
introduced the concept of sustainability to the
broad public. Sustainability has been embedded
in urban planning theory and the compact city
began to emerge as the most sustainable model
of urban growth, ensuring the two sustainability
imperatives of resource conservation and waste-
minimization (Burgess 2000). The compact city
concept was widely discussed during the 1990s in
many countries worldwide as a way to address
urban sustainability (OECD 2012). In this process
the European Commission played a key role with
the publication of the Green Paper on the Urban
Environment(CEC 1990) where urban contain-
ment policies and more compact forms are
encouraged assuming that they make urban areas
more environmentally sustainable and improve
quality of life (Jenks and Jones 2010; Jabareen
2006). Indeed, as summarized by Jenks and Jones
(2010,p.2)compact urban forms would reduce
urban sprawl, protect agricultural and amenity
land, and lead to more efcient use of existing,
previously developed urban land. With a mixture
of uses in much closer proximity, alternative
modes of travel would be encouraged, such as
walking and cycling, and public transport use
would also increase. This in turn would lead to
environmental, social and economic benets.
This position has been assumed by urban planners
and scholars all over the world who recognized a
lot of advantages in intensifying the density of
urban settlements. The most cited benet was
that the compact city model is more sustainable
in terms of energy consumption and pollution than
suburbs (Breheny 1995; Newman and Kenworthy
1989). Indeed, denser cities could optimize
energy and transport ows by taking advantage
from the reduced distances among dwellings,
work places, businesses, and public services and
facilities, thus enhancing public transport, and
consequently by reducing air and noise pollution
and increasing protection of agricultural land and
open spaces (Burton et al. 2000; Jenks and
Burgess 2000; Neuman 2005; Churchman 1999;
Breheny 1992; Conticelli et al. 2017).
Consequently, another important aspect char-
acterizing the compact city model is the mix of
different urban uses. Generally mixed-use devel-
opment is able to reduce travel times and to sup-
port more sustainable means of transport by
locating businesses services and workplaces
among residential areas, overcoming the rational-
ist separation of the urban functions or the single-
use suburban city model.
Denser mixed-use environments achieve also
social and economic sustainability by favoring
social inclusion and equity, through easier access
to services and facilities by foot, bicycle or public
transport, and encouraging people meet each other
by face-to -face interactions (Williams 1999;
Bramley and Power 2009; Arbury 2006).
As Neuman (2005) pointed out, this thesis was
claimed not only by scientists but also by
Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development 3
important institutions, such as the Urban Land
Institute (1998), the American Planning Associa-
tion (1999), the European Environment Agency
(1998), and the United Nations (1992). This gen-
erated a wide consensus around the importance to
plan more compact cities, particularly in Europe,
the United States, and Australia.
An effective synthesis of main socio-economic
and environmental goals linked to high-density
environments emerging from several planning
documents has been proposed by Churchman
(1999). These relate to the following spheres:
environmental quality, transportation systems,
physical infrastructure and urban form, social fac-
tors, and economic factors.
Recent Urban Planning Movements and
Theories Advocating the Compact City Model
During the 1990s, the ideal of the compact city
inspired real movements that have been initially
developed and further codied in the Anglo-
Saxon countries, where the suburban develop-
ment was born (Reale 2008).
The US smart growth movement, endorsed by
the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
was born with the aim of preserving open spaces
and parkland and protecting critical ecosystems
form urban sprawl. The main principles were to
improve low-carbon transportation choices
(walking, bicycling, and transit), to promote
browneld redevelopment and imperviousness
reduction, and to develop better higher density
housing (Smart Growth Network 2006; Danielsen
et al. 1999). A branch of the Smart Growth move-
ment is the New Urbanism, whose theorization
has been generally attributed to Duany and
Plater-Zyberk (1991) and advocated in the USA
as a response to urban sprawl. The New Urbanism
approach seeks to achieve compact, liveable,
pedestrian friendly, and mixed-use neighborhoods
(CUN 1999) by giving a strong importance to a
human-scaled urban master design (Neuman
2005). The New Urbanism design proposal is
based upon adapting the design principles of tra-
ditionaltowns to the modern life style, integrat-
ing walkable communities with a strong local
identity. The urban structure is strongly based
on a Transit-Oriented Development, an urban
planning model theorized by the New Urbanist
Peter Calthorpe (1993), which tends to intensify
the presence of residential, business uses, leisure,
and facilities within a walking distance of public
transport nodes, to drastically reduce the need
of car.
These movements of architects and urban plan-
ners arrived to dene real densication techniques
of existing settlements, by producing handbooks
and guidelines where urban planning and design
techniques specic for achieving compact and
mixed-use settlements have been punctually
In Europe the compact city has been deeply
investigated especially in the British literature,
where several scientists wrote extensively on the
topic. Intensication theories and policies inves-
tigated in the British context were focused on
maximizing the use of urban land, with the rede-
velopment of existing buildings, vacant and dere-
lict land, the intensication of activities in order to
preserve the countryside and open spaces in urban
areas (Jenks et al. 1996).
A valuable contribution was provided by the
Urban Task Force led by Richard Rogers who
advocated the idea of a well-designed, compact,
and connected city designed around its public
spaces (Urban Task Force 1999). The city is con-
ceived as not in contradiction with the aim of
ensuring good life conditions and wellbeing. The
sustainable city model proposed by Rogers is
characterized by few key elements: compactness
and polycentric structure, good connections based
on public transport, walking and cycling, mixed-
use urban environments, socially mixed, environ-
mentally responsible, well-designed urban envi-
ronment, and technologically advanced. By
undertaking such a compact city model, Rogers
puts on the agenda the priority need to upgrade the
existing urban fabric and to use the derelict and
browneld sites before developing greeneld.
New Challenges for the Compact City: Further
Evolution of the Concept
As already stressed, the compact city concept has
gained a wide consensus during the nal part of
the last century, evolving from a simple urban
containment policy to protect the natural
4 Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development
environment and agricultural land, to a multi-
purpose policy that includes sustainability princi-
ples (OECD 2012). This leads to the proposition
of specic strategies and targets aimed at preserv-
ing land and consequently at intensifying the
existing city. As a matter of fact, in Europe spe-
cic targets for limiting land take and promoting
compactness have been introduced by the
European Commission within the EU Environ-
ment Action Programme to 2020 (seventh EAP)
which aims to have policies in place by 2020 in
order to achieve no net land takeby 2050 in
each Member State.
However, while the drive towards the promo-
tion of more compact cities became strong, sev-
eral studies have expressed some concerns about
its potential to de facto ensure urban sustainability
(Breheny 1992,1996; Stretton 1996; Gordon and
Richardson 1997; Mindali et al. 2004; Jenks and
Burgess 2000; Williams et al. 2000; Neuman
2005). The predicted benets due to the imple-
mentation of compact city policies were not hap-
pening as they were foreseen, and the effects were
not in line with economic environmental and
social demands (Thomas and Cousins 1996).
Compact urban forms and urban density have
reected complex and multifaceted issues that
should have been carefully managed and assessed
to ensure liveability, health, and wellbeing of the
urban environment, as well as to reduce CO
emissions and energy consumption in cities.
Moreover, new challenges have been identied
in the framework of urban sustainability, such as
urban resilience and climate change adaptation,
which require open permeable spaces and greener
solutions. Indeed, exceeding in increasing the
urban density could determine not only the
increase of trafc congestion, air and noise pollu-
tion, and GHG emissions but also the lack of
necessary green spaces and permeable soils for
limiting the UHI effects and the risks due to the
occurrence of ordinary and extreme weather
events, such as oods or heatwaves.
Consequently, the debate of these last few
years has focused on the conicting balance
between a just containment of land take and opti-
mal compactness that ensures minimum levels of
urban green spaces. As a matter of fact, the loss of
green space and arable land and the deterioration
of ecosystems are concerns for both developed
and developing countries, since by 2030 two-
thirds of the worlds population will be living in
cities, the urban population in developing coun-
tries will double, and the area covered by cities
could triple (Un-Habitat 2016). At the same time
citiesrequest of open green spaces and higher
quality of life seems constantly increasing (OECD
Therefore, the challenge today is to constantly
assess not only that intensication processes are
aimed at regenerating existing urban fabrics, pro-
viding cites with necessary services and ameni-
ties, but also that the compact city model is
liveable, e.g., that ensures optimal climate condi-
tions, liveability, public health, and good func-
tioning of existing urban systems and
infrastructures (Conticelli et al. 2017).
With the SDG11 the 2030 Urban Agenda
clearly recognizes the importance to promote
more compact settlements. Indeed, the SDG11
stresses the need of a more efcient use of land
considered as able to better provide and manage
public services (water, transport, waste) at a lower
cost and to consume less energy than dispersed
settlements. This position gives new attention to
the positive effects of more compact settlements,
encouraging further investigations on understand-
ing what are the key features of compact cities and
the importance to dene optimal values on what
constitutes an efcient land use and indicators to
measure it.
Key Features of Compact Cities
Measuring Urban Compactness
Measuring density and compactness is a typical
task planner do to calculate specic requirements
of urban services, to estimate site capacities, and
to control urban development on specic sites.
There are several ways of measuring urban
compactness, depending on the scale under anal-
ysis (city, neighborhood, individual site, plot
levels). The most common indicator is urban den-
sity, which can be expressed in different ways,
varying from country to country (Burton 2002;
Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development 5
Churchman 1999). In all cases, density is a ratio in
which the numerator is a quantity of human activ-
ity, such as residents, jobs, or built form, and the
denominator represents a given land base. The
choice of numerator depends on the phenomenon
under investigation. The most common ways of
measuring density are:
Dwelling unit density, the number of dwellings
within a standard spatial unit, which is com-
monly used at city scale for estimating the
housing needs and as reference unit by the
real estate market. It is also an important
parameter for estimating the minimum legal
requirements of public facilities and services,
such as water and sewer pipes, roads, and elec-
tricity to buildings.
Population density, the number of people
within a standard spatial unit, which is com-
monly used by technicians for establishing the
urban load of a new development and then for
sizing infrastructural networks and systems.
Indeed, population density is an appropriate
indicator of potential transit use, to make such
service viable. Population density may also
provide information about urban vitality: high
population density can enhance social interac-
tions due to proximity. A similar parameter
frequently used together population density is
the employment density, measuring the num-
ber of jobs in any given area.
Floor area density expressed in oor area ratio
(FAR) and also known as Plot Ratio and Floor
Space Index which is the ratio of the number
of square meters (feet) of oor space in build-
ings to the square meters (feet) of the property
or lot. It is commonly used at the parcel scale,
is very useful for studying the link between
density and urban form, and is strongly ori-
ented to the project.
All of these measures may be either net or
gross: net density is calculated within a develop-
ment site and excludes roads, parks, and other
nonresidential land uses; gross density includes
all land uses within a given area incorporating the
broader network of public spaces.
Although these are common measures of the
same entity, they provide different information;
therefore, it is important to look at all the three
numbers to obtain a detailed picture of density for
a given area. In fact, the relationship between
population, dwelling unit, and oor area densities
depends on household size and crowding.
Moreover, at a wider scale, residential density
based on the extent of the total amount of urban-
ized areas can give interesting information of what
city expansion is going on. In fact, it registers the
relationship between city expansion and popula-
tion growth.
Density is a quantitative indicator, therefore is
very useful in describing the urban form in quan-
titative terms, while its usefulness to capture the
qualitative characteristics is limited. Indeed, it
does not control the building height; thus, it is
quite possible to build high-rise low-density or
low-rise high-density.
In this sense density should be considered in
conjunction with other indicators describing the
urban form. An additional indicator completing
density is the coverage, which is the ratio of the
ground oor area of enclosed buildings to the area
of the lot. Developments with the same FAR may
have very different coverage, thus producing dif-
ferent urban environments in terms of building
heights and open spaces.
The OECD (2012) proposes additional indica-
tors for describing urban compactness as well as
densication policies. One parameter is proxim-
ity, concerning how urban functions are sprawled
in a metropolitan area. It measures how much one
urban activity is close to another in a metropolitan
area, thus being applied both to monocentric and
polycentric settlements. Proximity can be mea-
sured by analyzing the average transport distances
due to commuting as well as to shopping and
leisure and by mapping land cover data, to esti-
mate how much land is used for urban purposes.
Other indicators are related with the presence
public transport systems which are necessary to
underpin high urban densities. They can be
expressed in terms of share of trips using public
transport in total trips, or share of population
and/or employment within a given walkable dis-
tance to public transport stops in total population.
6 Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development
Another key parameter describing urban com-
pactness is the mix of use, most widely used to
indicate accessibility to local services and jobs,
but less frequently considered and measured by
urban planners. In literature mixed land use con-
cept has not a unique meaning and nding proper
indicators is a challenge. Burton (2002) identied
three main indicators describing the mix of uses:
varied and plentiful supply of facilities and ser-
vices, showing the provision of public facilities
and the balance between residential and non-
residential land uses; horizontal mix of uses,
describing the geographical distribution of differ-
ent uses throughout the city; vertical mix of uses,
referring the mix of uses within single buildings.
Techniques and Tools for Increasing Urban
Pursuing a compact city model implies to under-
take a process of making existing cities denser,
encouraging more people to live in urban areas,
and building at higher densities. This means to
intensify cities. The term urban intensication
is commonly related with processes that make an
area more compact. It is also compared with
urban consolidationan alternative term describ-
ing the same intensication and compaction pro-
cesses, frequently used in Australian literature.
Land-use planning and zoning are citiespri-
mary tools for increasing urban density. Land-use
planning has the role of ordering and regulating
land use in an efcient and sustainable way. Gov-
ernments use land-use planning to manage the
development of land within their jurisdictions by
planning for the needs of the community while
safeguarding natural resources. By doing so land-
use planning typically encompasses zoning which
regulates the types of activities that can be accom-
modated on a given piece of land, as well as the
amount of space devoted to those activities, and
the ways that buildings may be situated and
Within this framework, specic tools can be
identied as mainly dedicated to increase urban
compactness. These can be grouped in two main
categories: planning and incentive-based tools.
Planning and Design Tools
Two main techniques applied for intensify
existing urban developments are inllingand
redevelopment.Both techniques are aimed at
increase not only the urban density but also the
mix of uses of the entire neighborhood.
Inlling consists in small urban interventions
on an already developed lot aimed at adding more
units and regenerating the existing urban fabrics.
Although this is the most obvious strategy to
increase urban density, it faces many obstacles,
due to the lack of empty inll sites and the oppo-
site need to preserve and ensure green open spaces
within the city.
Urban redevelopment occurs when a built-up
area is totally replaced with new buildings and
open spaces. In general, it happens in existing
urban areas, which are underutilized or aban-
doned, or in brownelds and often involves a
rezoning by the local government, representing a
chance to build high-density buildings or urban
attractors (mixed-use or commercial) thus increas-
ing the overall density of the neighborhood. It is
frequently accompanied by a provision of infra-
structure improvements (mass transit, such as
metro lines) that can support such up-zoning.
There are additional intensication techniques
affecting the density but with no particular effects
on the urban form: e.g., the increase of the number
of housing units due to the division of large dwell-
ing, and the rehabilitation of vacant or underused
buildings. The former inuences the possibility to
host an increased number of people in a given area
and the latter ensues a maximization of the use of
built up assets.
These techniques are applied not only for
intensifying built-up areas within cities but also
as methods for repairing the negative effects of
urban sprawl in suburbs. As a matter of fact,
especially in the USA, these techniques have
been included within more articulated and codi-
ed techniques aimed at undertaking a sound
reconguration of dispersed mono-functional
suburbs, comprised under the name of Sprawl
repair techniques (Tachieva 2010) and methods
for retrotting suburbia (Dunham-Jones and
Williamson 2009). Besides the attempt of intensi-
fying suburban areas, these methodologies aim at
Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development 7
redesigning and re-urbanizing elements typical of
the American dispersed suburbs, such as:
Dying malls, strip malls and enclosed malls
Postwar suburban system of thoroughfares (the
highway, the arterial, the collector, the local
and the cul-de-sac) which are transformed
into complete, multimodal streets
Huge and empty parking lots, which are
resized and redeveloped with the introduction
of new functions
Conventional single-use zoning, made of
single-family houses, which are retrotted
through a rezoning creating a hierarchy of pub-
lic spaces and new urban functions
Incentive-Based Tools
Additional measures encouraging urban density
are incentive-based tools. One example is
represented by density bonuses, widely used in
the United States. They allow developers to
increase the maximum allowable development
on a site than that normally permitted in exchange
for either funds or in-kind support for specied
public policy goals, such as affordable housing,
additional public facilities and spaces, as well as
environmental conservation. This tool works best
in cities in which market demand is strong and
land availability limited.
Another measure is the transfer of building
rights. Development rights generally refer to the
maximum amount of oor area permissible on a
given lot. When the actual built oor area is less
than the maximum permitted oor area, the dif-
ference is referred to as unused development
rights,municipalities can dispose (and transfer)
to engage in more intensive land development
(Amirtahmasebi et al. 2016). This tool is mainly
applied as an incentive to intensifying cities thus
avoiding urban sprawl. Landowners in peri-urban
and suburban areas are encouraged to sell their
development rights to private developers, realiz-
ing an economic return. Developers, in turn, have
an interest in building increased density in urban
areas where there is strong market demand.
The compact city concept has evolved over time
showing to be rather controversial for achieving
sustainable development because there still
remain many questions surrounding exactly how
compact the compact city should be. However, it
has been a reference model in urban planning
since the very beginning of the discipline and
even before. In fact, there is no city without
Two main ways of dening what is city have
been identied at global level in the framework of
the SDG work (UN-Habitat 2018). They are
clearly based on city compactness and density.
The former considers the urban extent, i.e., the
contiguous area occupied by buildings and other
impervious surfaces, which is measured in terms
of extent of built-up sites within a given area thus
generating three main classes: urban built-up
areas, suburban built-up areas, and rural built-up
areas. The latter denes cities against their degree
of urbanization, which is expressed in terms of
population size, density, and contiguity of settle-
ments. This classication distinguishes three set-
tlement types: densely, intermediate, and thinly
populated areas.
Moreover, the Sustainable Development Goals
recognize the compact city as a good model to
make cities and human settlement inclusive, safe,
resilient, and sustainable. Indeed the SDG11 con-
siders reducing urban sprawl as one of the actions
through which achieving sustainable cities and
communities. This will inevitably be an important
worldwide reference in the compact city debate
for the forthcoming decades.
Sustainable Urban Planning
Urban Mobility and Transportation
Urbanization and Urban Growth
8 Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development
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10 Compact City as a Model Achieving Sustainable Development
... Increasing urban compactness can reduce urban sprawl and inefficient land use, and enhance the environment's vitality. Some scholars believe that improving compactness can control urban shrinkage [57,58]. However, for some rapidly developing cities in China, improving compactness may lead to crowded spaces, environmental degradation, and reduced ecological function, negatively impacting health and increasing costs [59]. ...
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Chinese cities are experiencing urban shrinkage due to demographic, environmental, economic, and political changes. However, urban form is another reason for urban shrinkage. This study first identified the shrinking of 293 cities in China based on the values of the change in brightness extracted from multi-year nighttime light data. Next, the characteristics of construction land morphology from 2019 were analyzed using landscape pattern analysis. Finally, the impact of urban form on urban shrinkage was explored using Geodetector. The results show that: (1) In total, 293 cities experienced different degrees of shrinkage. Regions with severe shrinkage were concentrated in the underdeveloped provinces, and autonomous central and western regions of China; moreover, (2) All factors of urban form significantly affected urban shrinkage. The largest q-values were found in patch density (0.144) and urban area (0.133), indicating that the degree of construction land fragmentation and urban area scale affected urban shrinkage the most; and (3) The interaction effects of pairwise factors were mutually or nonlinearly enhanced. The influence of urban form and socio-economic factors was stronger than that of socio-economic factors alone. This shows that the coupling of urban form and socio-economic factors strengthens the impact of urban form on urban shrinkage.
... Ou seja, a cidade compacta continua sendo considerada a resposta ao espraiamento urbano tal como nas propostas de Ebenezer Howard no princípio do século XX(OECD, 2012;Duany et al., 2010;Rogers, 1997). Dentre as características da cidade compacta estão as altas densidades urbanas, a diversidade de uso do solo, o elevado grau de acessibilidade, o custo minimizado da infraestrutura urbana, a redução do consumo de terras férteis para agricultura, e a redução da emissão de carbono(Bibri et al., 2020;Conticelli, 2019;Neuman, 2005;Jenks et al., 2005; William et al., 2000).Não obstante, o paradigma de qualidade da cidade compacta pode ser contraditório. O que demonstra a literatura internacional, segundo BerghauserPont et al. (2020), é que, numa correlação direta entre altas densidades urbanas e desenvolvimento urbano sustentável, 1/3 dos estudos apresentam relação negativa entre ambos. ...
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Este artigo examina como evoluíram no Brasil as regiões urbanas criadas a partir de uma estrutura hierárquica com cidade principal e cidades subordinadas. Três casos planejados a partir da ideia britânica de cidades satélites na segunda metade do século XX foram considerados: o norte do Paraná, o Distrito Federal e o norte de Mato Grosso. Ao constatar a transformação física no conceito original aplicado, foram estudadas as implicações das atuais manchas urbanas e do seu contexto regional. Para tanto foram ponderados o modo de crescimento e as conexões entre as formas urbanas, bem como sua relação com o contexto natural. Como resultado, percebeu-se que as cidades se espraiaram, suas manchas urbanas se associaram e circundaram cursos d’água e reservas florestais. Portanto, visando uma interação cidade-natureza adequada e sustentável, a visão ecológica deve estar contemplada no planejamento futuro destas regiões.
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Proper management of rainwater in cities has significant impact on improving environmental conditions: improving microclimate of city by regulating the water cycle and reducing heat islands; development of biodiversity; increase health and well-being of residents. The aim of the article is to present the possibilities of improving environmental conditions in compact urban development areas - those that additionally contribute to the shaping of architecture, and thus combine the benefits: ecological, functional, aesthetic. The article draws attention to the synergy of climate change and the new way of developing urban areas which was presented on the example of specific solutions functioning on the transformed urban area: Clichy-Batignolles in central Paris – recognized as a model for environmental solutions, labeled Éco-Quartier. The mentioned conditions and solutions were related to the possibility of shaping urban form, with the obligation to discharge some or all of the rainwater on the building plot. Based on the calculations made for the runoff ratio in individual quarters, it was found that it is possible to maintain a compact urban structure and effectively manage rain water provided that appropriate engineering and urban solutions are applied. These solutions can have architectural value. Conclusions from the analyzes can be used to formulate guidelines for other European cities, which are increasingly faced with the problem of water scarcity and uncontrolled flooding.
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Regenerating Urban Land draws on the experience of eight case studies from around the world. The case studies outline various policy and financial instruments to attract private sector investment in urban regeneration of underutilized and unutilized areas and the requisite infrastructure improvements. In particular, each case study details the project cycle, from the scoping phase and determination of the initial amount of public sector investment, to implementation and subsequent leveraged private-sector funds. This manual analyzes rates of return on the investments and long-term financial sustainability. Regenerating Urban Land guides local governments to systematically identify the sequence of steps and tasks needed to develop a regeneration policy framework, with the participation of the private sector. The manual also formulates specific policies and instruments for expanding private sector participation; structuring effective administrative and legal frameworks; utilizing land readjustment/assembly methods; determining duration of contracts, adequate phasing, and timeline; and balancing the distribution of risk and sustainability measures.
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Background. In the early part of the twentieth century, planning theory and practice always voiced strong opposition to density. The error of this insistence was persuasively argued by Jane Jacobs in the 1960s. Subsequently, planning theory and practice came to recognise the importance of density, but this return to favour requires remaining constantly alert to the possible dangers and pitfalls. Methods. Critically considering the traditional and contemporary urban planning literature and the empirical evidence in the recent economic and geographical research, this article investigates the whys and wherefores of density in urban planning. It addresses two main questions: Is urban density really desirable (and why)? Is it effectively manageable (and how)? Results. Density per se is meaningless unless it is a tool or condition for achieving something further. And even if the instrumental function of density were to be acknowledged, it is crucial to take into account that density is not solely (or merely) a tool which – in certain conditions – can be useful in reducing commute times and minimising the encroachment on undeveloped land. Its primary advantage concerns favouring the concentrated diverse admix of human preferences, tastes, abilities, know-how, uses, activities, and so forth. Conclusions. After having expressly laboured to avoid it for so long, the aim is not to create density directly, but to open the door and allow density to happen in our cities, thanks to more abstract and general planning rules.
Cities are key players in the reduction of CO2 emissions and in the fight against climate change because they consume around 80% of energy production worldwide. Since new urban developments have become residual among the overall city interventions, existing buildings need to be deeply renovated in terms of energy performance or demolished and substituted by high performance buildings to fulfil the CO2 reduction goals assumed by the EU. Existing buildings and urban fabrics need also to achieve higher performances in terms of statics and functional requisites and open spaces quality, thus increasing energy efficiency and the sustainability of the city as a whole. Urban densification, which become possible thanks to the adoption of density bonus rights or incentives, emerges as a credible response able to address energy saving issues at building scale and to help financing the interventions, but the overall sustainability and effectiveness of these measures risk to be neutralized if they are implemented without a clear strategy at urban scale. By analysing the experiences of two medium-sized cities in Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy, the article supports the thesis that energy-sensitive densification processes, to be effective in achieving deep energy reduction targets, should be conceived as a part of an integrated and broader urban strategy fostering a wider urban regeneration of the existing city. temporary link:
This chapter focuses on the issues in current city planning and rebuilding. It describes the principles and aims that have shaped modern, orthodox city planning and rebuilding. The chapter shows how cities work in real life, because this is the only way to learn what principles of planning and what practices in rebuilding can promote social and economic vitality in cities, and what practices and principles will deaden these attributes. In trying to explain the underlying order of cities, the author uses a preponderance of examples from New York. The most important thread of influence starts, more or less, with Ebenezer Howard, an English court reporter for whom planning was an avocation. Howard's influence on American city planning converged on the city from two directions: from town and regional planners on the one hand, and from architects on the other.
Australian cities have sprawled further and faster than any other cities in the world. The medium density 19th century urban areas, though now seen to be comparatively high-density, were less dense than those in other parts of the world and the post-war low-density suburbs are more space consuming than even the Californian cities we ridicule for their sprawl. This paper will outline the basic argument for the compact city which has emerged in the Australian context; it will show how the form of Australian cities has occurred, the problems as they are now seen and how policies for the compact city are emerging. -from Author
This paper challenges an emerging conventional wisdom: that transport energy consumption, and hence pollution, can be substantially reduced by promoting more compact cities. Such reasoning has quickly found its way from academic studies to official policy in many countries. Do the likely savings from such containment warrant the required draconian policies? An empirical assessment of transport energy consumption arising from decentralization is used to address this question. Two contextual reviews - of the compact city case and the strength of decentralization - precede the assessment. The conclusion is that energy savings will be minimal and that other policies might be more fruitful.