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Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Thomas L. Saaty is a Distinguished University Professor at.
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We encourage action, projects, collaboration and sharing of knowledge and practice in these focus areas. Although difficult to define, the need for an overarching strategy for coping with, adapting to and transitioning through these shocks and stressors has led to urban decision-makers and communities converging around the application of a growing suite of resilience assessment tools, mechanisms and processes.

Compact City: the next urban evolution in response to climate change

Globally, resilience is recognised in a number of intergovernmental frameworks. Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDGs , for example, explicitly aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, with targets including funding of resilient buildings for Least Developed Countries and reducing the number of deaths and economic losses caused by natural disasters.

A number of other goals also include resilience-specific targets. Beyond the UN, civil society and philanthropic organisations have also widely embraced the resilience paradigm. The technical definition of resilience is contested, and varies depending on the field or discipline that is applying it, what the definition is being applied to, and the form of the shocks and stressors being considered. These three scoping issues is a critical starting point in applying resilience thinking, and are summarised in the question: Resilience of What, to What, for Whom? Figure 2: Depiction of the frequency of various paired resilience-related terminology in peer-reviewed literature.

Critically, the nature of cities means that urban resilience must be value-based, as resilience is not inherently a positive concept. Negative urban resilience can also characterise a city or its component parts if ethics, equity, and long-term sustainability are not explicitly defined. In practice, enhancing urban resilience requires balanced consideration of seemingly contradictory attributes a product of the conceptual tensions mentioned above , in order to cope with probable impacts, at the same time as maintaining generalised resilience qualities to manage long-term structural shifts and unknowns.

Both processes—the demolition of buildings in declining urban areas and renewed growth driven by population gain—are of increasing importance, fostering densification processes in Europe.

Cities Respond to Climate Change - The New School

Thus, these types of dynamics would have to be added to the types introduced by Angel [ 6 , 7 , 70 ], whereby the regrowth process, in particular, contributes substantially to a densification of urban land area S3 Fig. Moreover, we identify an increasing polarization between growth and shrinkage when it comes to city size. Larger urban areas benefit more from population influx without the need for further expansion of residential areas, so far reurbanisation , whereas smaller ones may grow at the expense of their hinterland, leading to decline in the near or more remote future.

Although we basically agree with Angel et al.

Compact City: the next urban evolution in response to climate change

Density change rates for European urban areas are diverging for what different factors come into play. Factors such as growth in GDP, purchasing power and household income are only able to explain land consumption to a certain extent [ 55 , 71 ]. Moreover, we would like to discuss three factors which share high explanation power for our analysis; their empirical investigation is, however, beyond the scope of this paper and thus requires further research.

A major reason for the variety of density changes lies in planning differences, in particular in national planning systems, the size of local governments and institutional fragmentation [ 55 , ]. Changing spatial planning systems and a lack of trust in planning regulations has led to extensive sprawl in post-socialist Europe the Baltic States, Ex-Yugoslavia, Ex-Czechoslovakia, Poland from the early s onwards [ , ]. As a consequence, massive construction activities with few constraints on land use or in the absence of master plans are observed in growing but especially in shrinking urban areas, which is especially pronounced in Romania and Bulgaria [ , ].

At the same time, national planning authorities hardly estimate the impact which a reinforced population loss might have on their urban systems [ ]. Consequently, sprawl of growing urban areas is observed also in larger capital urban areas in Eastern Europe Poland, Hungary but also in Southern Spain, Greece, Italy and Western Europe Ireland, France confirming previous studies [ 5 , 54 , 55 ]. However, the East German example e. For many countries the variety of responsible administrative actors at different levels is an additional barrier for comprehensive planning.

However, several countries follow integrated planning approaches from the national down to the local level focusing on compact inner-city development. This goes along with a strong role of local planning such as in Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland or the UK, leaving urban sprawl much less attractive behind and lead to a high percentage of compact urban growth [ 19 , 80 ].

The way supply and demand is balanced on the housing market is essential influencing density changes of cities. First, the share of rented vs owned flats impacts the residential choice of households and can pull certain household groups e. Second, this is determined by the actor constellation as in the European context larger cooperatives, partly owned by municipalities, hold a high share of flats and essentially determine to what extend an extension of residential area is necessary or obsolete.

Third, the privatization of the housing stock together with cheap and available land [ 17 ] has led to extensive construction activities more sparsely, as free-standing and hence more space-consuming building structures [ 20 , 80 , ] in particular in Eastern and Southern Europe, also driven by the growth of coastal tourism in Spain or France [ 59 ]. Planning need to counteract this dedensification trend by, for example, repurchasing private land and prevent it from further speculative housing stock [ ].

In some regions, residential area was adapted to population loss which in turn resulted in different expressions of density changes. Thereby, national transfer programs particularly pronounced in welfare states, for example, in Germany or in the UK, had considerable impact on this urban development [ 9 , 10 ]. This is an obvious difference e.

These public investments stabilized the housing market has led to the phenomenon of regrowth and an associated population growth without land expansion [ 9 ]. The stabilization of population numbers and reuse and revitalization usually start in selected inner parts of cities, which offer better infrastructures, cultural and educational facilities, as well as green and recreational spaces [ 10 , 11 , , ]. Finally, the German example shows that urban sprawl significantly slowed down with the phasing out of state-initiated tax policy supporting single-family houses in Our study showed that dedensification did not slow down but, instead, intensified after the turn of the millennium and has therefore continued to dominate urban development in Europe [ 6 , 54 , 55 , ].

However, in comparison to the concept introduced by Angel et al.

Resilience : UN Global Compact – Cities Programme

We need a more differentiated view on the continental scale: All data values analysed are very well spread, compared to the diagram presented by Angel et al. Apart from urban sprawl, the patterns identified by Angel et al. It is worth asking about the extent to which urban shrinkage plays a role in the concept established by Angel et al. A reinforced population loss, an adapted residential area within urban areas as well as an increasing polarization between larger and smaller cities in Europe, which is largely dominated by smaller settlements, are three trends which result in interrelation to the various drivers mentioned above to different expressions of density changes that might be specific for Europe, e.

There is a need to enlarge the perspective: It should be emphasized that population dynamics fluctuate much more than a change in the physical shape of an urban area. On the one hand, housing and infrastructure investments tend to have a long life-span and show a considerable inertness with slower rates of change. On the other hand, international and local migration patterns may change very quickly, leading to different density changes, depending on the size and the location of the urban area.

The sample used in this study encompasses the entire range of city size and demonstrates that certain processes, such as sprawl, are characteristic for small and medium-sized as well as large urban areas, whereas large urban areas currently experience reconcentration processes, without any additional physical expansion. This reconcentration, which occurs parallel to ongoing sprawl, was already observed, in the s, in Northern and Western Europe measured by population development [ ].

However, residential densities that are too high might imply disadvantages such as price increases for housing, rising infrastructure costs, pollution, and additional costs of a degraded environment and related health problems [ 59 ]. Both aspects indicate a polarization between large and small urban areas at the continental scale and are more likely to continue in the future. Therefore, a more detailed discussion of the consequences of this polarization together with the interdependencies of cities is required; this is certainly an issue for planning.

The analysis concept used in this paper has shown the advantage of using both indicators the population and the built-up area in order to reveal different patterns of density changes. This enriches the model by Angel et al. This helps to better understand why population growth alone is not sufficient to explain the growth in urban land consumption [ 17 , 54 , ].

However, the explanatory power of our study is limited by the data used and further empirical research is needed in order to fully uncover the drivers mentioned above. As various local indicators such as GDP is hardly available nor comparable the quantitative detection of density patterns presented in this paper can be combined by national to local focused studies. First, a local governance analysis covering one up to several case studies can be performed within a regional or national planning context [ ] in order to investigate the of planning for the extension or reduction of housing supply together with an analysis of compactness, adaptation and amenity measurements of local authorities.

Second, an analysis of economic development should be necessarily accompanied by an investigation of housing supply and demand. This involves different residential migration groups as well as price-ownership constellation and public to private investments into housing and infrastructure. We strongly recommend for both future research orientations to spatially focus the study to regions or nations and necessarily include the urban hinterland into the observation as cities are not isolated entities [ ].

Thus, the approach provides some anchor points for a more context discussion backed up by multiple data, which is desirable for policy and planning aiming at compact structures. It should therefore be seen as a starting point and an initial endeavour that pleads for a differentiated and contextualized view on urban density changes and its explanatory power in complex settings.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS One.

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Published online Feb Iratxe Puebla, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Received Mar 8; Accepted Jan This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

S3 Fig: Six different types of density changes for growing and declining urban areas in different periods. S1 Table: Basic statistics for countries.


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Abstract Changes in urban residential density represent an important issue in terms of land consumption, the conservation of ecosystems, air quality and related human health problems, as well as the consequential challenges for urban and regional planning. Introduction The concepts and discussions about the direction and dynamics of urbanization, such as growth or shrinkage, have one issue in common: They deal with the relationship between built-up areas in urban areas and the population concentrated in them.

Open in a separate window. Fig 1. Development of average density in built-up areas, in a global sample of cities, — [ 6 ]. Materials and methods Residential density, as a measure of land-use intensity, is not an easily interpretable concept [ 42 ]. Fig 2. Fig 3. Operationalisation of population density changes under different outcomes of urban population development and built-up areas [ 9 ].

Results: Density changes in Europe 3. Fig 4. Density changes — for large and small urban areas. Table 1 Frequencies, average changes for four types of density changes and f-tests for differences between growing and shrinking urban areas. Fig 5. Spatial distribution and frequencies of density change patterns. Discussion To discuss our results, we return to our three initial research questions. Are residential densities in urban areas across Europe generally declining, as the model of Angel suggests?

To what extent do we find differences in density changes between growing and shrinking as well as between small and large urban areas? Which driving factors might explain the observed trends? Planning and institutional factors A major reason for the variety of density changes lies in planning differences, in particular in national planning systems, the size of local governments and institutional fragmentation [ 55 , ].