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2019 | Book

Planning Cities with Nature

Theories, Strategies and Methods


About this book

This book explores novel theories, strategies and methods for re-naturing cities. It enables readers to learn from best practice and advances the current theoretical and empirical understanding in the field. The book also offers valuable insights into how planners and policymakers can apply this knowledge to their own cities and regions, exploring top-down, bottom-up and mixed mechanisms for the systemic re-naturing of planned and existing cities.

There is considerable interest in ‘naturalising’ cities, since it can help address multiple global societal challenges and generate various benefits, such as the enhancement of health and well-being, sustainable urbanisation, ecosystems and their services, and resilience to climate change. This can also translate into tangible economic benefits in terms of preventing health hazards, positively affecting health-related expenditure, new job opportunities (i.e. urban farming) and the regeneration of urban areas.

There is, thus, a compelling case to investigate integrative approaches to urban and natural systems that can help cities address the social, economic and environmental needs of a growing population. How can we plan with nature? What are the models and approaches that can be used to develop more sustainable cities that provide high-quality urban green spaces?

Table of Contents


Cities and Nature in History

Chapter 1. Understanding Landscape: Cultural Perceptions of Environment in the UK and China
Different philosophical traditions in China and the UK have contributed to the establishment of a multi-dimensional discussion of perceptions of nature. This has influenced the approach of landscape architects and planners in the design and planning of the built environment and continues to affect the treatment of private and public space design. With rapid urbanisation in the twentieth century, there has been a growing discussion (emanating from North America but also permeating discussions in the UK, Europe and more recently East Asia) of how we create places that satisfy the need and desire from the public for contact with ‘nature’. This chapter presents a comparative discussion of historical perceptions of landscape within urban development located within the UK and China. We reflect on how urban ecology has been integrated into development practices, debate the interaction of people with urban landscape and consider responses to demands for nature in cities. The chapter concludes with a review on the current practice surrounding the development and management of urban public space in China and the UK, reflecting the cultural context of nature in cities and the work of urban planning and design authorities.
Ying Li, Ian Mell
Chapter 2. Green Wedges: The Resilience of a Planning Idea
This chapter examines the development of a planning idea that has made its mark in manifold formats since its inception in the early twentieth century: the green wedge idea. The central argument theorises that the green wedge idea has morphed into different urban models aimed at answering fundamental planning questions to date. Initially, it presents precedents of planning for a balanced relationship between the city and nature. The chapter then shows how the idea emerged in discussions related to how modern cities should be planned to ensure access to nature. The contrast between the green wedge idea and that of the green belt is posed. In the sequence, the chapter analyses the green wedge models derived from the initial idea, namely the belt–wedge, the polycentric city and the corridor–wedge. Finally, the chapter argues that the green wedge idea adapted through time and space, responding to planning culture and to the needs of cities and regions. The resilience of this planning idea suggests that green wedges can adapt and, in so doing, contribute to respond to our contemporary challenges of urban growth, the need for intra-urban quality green spaces and the quest for urban sustainability.
Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Chapter 3. Demystified Territories: City Versus Countryside in Andrea Branzi’s Urban Models
This chapter analyzes the relationship between city and countryside in the urban proposals by Italian architect Andrea Branzi (Florence 1938). It starts by examining the No-Stop City (1969–71) a project that arose from a political critique of the capitalist city aimed at demystifying it, that is, at making the hidden structures of the capitalist system visible. While this uncommon agenda entailed a radical reconsideration of the territory, implying the end of the city–countryside dialectic, it is argued that the proposal is ultimately ambiguous about the outcomes of such radical shift. The chapter goes to examine Agronica (1995), a later urban model by Branzi that poses a decided hybridization of city and countryside. Despite the stark differences between the two, it is claimed that Agronica can be read as a logical evolution of the No-Stop City that clarifies some of its contradictions. Finally, it is argued that the politically rooted realism underpinning the No-Stop City opened the door to an original and inspiring territorial vision that could allow us to reconsider, not only the relations between urban and rural, or between artificial and natural but, even, the very nature of these categories.
Pablo Martínez Capdevila
Chapter 4. The Introduction of Nature in the Austrian Radicals Practice
This chapter examines the use of nature in the visionary representations of the radicals in the period between the early 60s and the late 70s, and assigns to the first generation of the Austrian Radicals (Raimund Abraham, Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler) the primogeniture of photomontages in which nature and technology blend in an urban or suburban landscape. The Austrian position against the modernists will be described with the focus on a specific aspect, generally defined by radicals as functionalism that, as in their interpretation, considered architecture as a series of watertight compartments to meet user needs. Austrian Radicals’ disagreement with modernist reductionism is also illustrated at the city scale and linked to the zoning approach. However, it will be demonstrated that, searching for the natural landscape, interpreted as a non-corrupted place, the Viennese do not exclude the function’s existence. Rather, they view themselves as more open to the more “natural” neglected by Arbeitesgruppe 4, the functionalist architects group that represented the cultural domination in Austria of the technocratic vision of the Modern Movement. Along this path, Hans Hollein introduces his techno-landscape and Haus Rucker Co, the oases, architectures that constitute the main focus of this research.
Alessandro Melis
Chapter 5. University Campuses: Experimentations on the Relations Between City and Nature in Brazil
In Brazil, the university campuses built over the twentieth century are an important chapter of planning history, favoring a closer relationship between the city and the natural environment. The aim of this chapter is to analyze the spatial strategies applied in the planning of federal university campuses in Brazil by emphasizing their relationship with nature. The temporal cut comes from the origin of the implantation of university cities in the country from the 1930s up to the recent expansion occurred in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Two important moments in the trajectory of the federal university campuses in Brazil, the origin in the 1930s and the first expansion in the 1960s, are considered to be periods of creation and consolidation of a spatial model of university campus based on North American experiences. From the third moment of the expansion on, which was after the year 2000, this model was revised as new smaller campuses were created, less committed to the academic community’s integration with nature. In this new moment, it is noticeable that a good share of the new campuses stopped being ideal small towns and has taken on the virtues and the vices of the already consolidated cities.
Klaus C. Alberto

Planning Models, Theories and Methods for Re-naturing Cities

Chapter 6. Towards a Spatial Planning Framework for the Re-naturing of Cities
This chapter presents a framework for the spatial planning of re-naturing cities. There is today a lively debate about re-naturing cities, since it can address multiple societal challenges and generate benefits such as the enhancement of health and wellbeing, sustainable urbanisation, ecosystems and their services and resilience to climate change. Yet, further consideration of the roles that positive spatial planning and planning models in particular have to play in fostering the integration of urbanisation with nature is needed. This chapter, thus, focuses on representative models with such potential, including the grid, the linear, the concentric and the radial. Initially, it identifies major principles for the spatial re-naturing of cities. Secondly, it analyses the main characteristics of each of the four models, concentrating in particular on their suitability to deliver on the re-naturing principles discussed previously. The chapter then centres on how a hybrid approach can maximise the systemic integration of natural and urban systems. Finally, the conclusions offer insights into the potentialities of planning models in bridging the city–nature dichotomy and potential future directions of development.
Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Chapter 7. Green Networks as a Key of Urban Planning with Thermal Comfort and Well-being
This chapter discusses the interactions between vegetation and the urban environment to improve human thermal comfort as well as guarantee the well-being of people. A network of green spaces can promote well-being benefits, including recreation, healthy living, reducing flooding, improving air quality, cooling the urban environment, encourage-ageing walking and cycling, and enhancing biodiversity and ecological resilience. During the decision-making process, urban planning and design cannot be based only on qualitative criteria, quantitative analyses of the benefits associated with green networks need to be considered at the various scales of the urban form. The aim of this chapter is to present quantitative tools that can be used for the evaluation of urban thermal comfort at different scales of urban planning and design. The tools briefly described in this chapter consist in field measurements, field survey, analysis of real situations and future scenario analysis. In particular, ENVI-met model is employed for the detailed evaluation of future scenarios with case studies from Brazil and UK. Not only do these case studies demonstrate how green networks are able to make urban spaces more attractive, improving human experience, but also how green networks can play a fundamental role in promoting thermal comfort in cities.
Ornella Iuorio, Loyde A. Harbich
Chapter 8. Relationships Between Urban Green Areas and Health in China, Brazil and the UK
This chapter discusses the interactions between green areas and health in China, Brazil and the UK, which have a potential towards improving health in general, especially because the quality of those spaces promotes walkability. The understanding of this interrelationships in different geographic contexts is important to promote modifications on urban planning focused to improve features of green urban areas. This chapter proposes different approaches and experiences about importance of greening on human health by existent researches. In general, methods used in studies about the relations between green infrastructure and health based on health measures, interviews and environmental data. It suggests that promote greenery as forestry, squares, parks, backyards or frontal yards, related to better overall health.
Klaus C. Alberto, Loyde A. Harbich, Ying Li
Chapter 9. Planning a Green City: The Case of Helsinki, 2002–2018
The planning of Helsinki balances between the aims of creating a densely built-up network city and that of preserving green space. While Helsinki ranks among the greenest capital cities in Europe, the city has managed to preserve major green spaces that form its green network so far. The continuous growth of its population, however, complicates the situation given the limited amount of land available for future development. This chapter analyses the problem concerning the role of green space in town planning in Helsinki by analysing how green space has been dealt with in two successive master plans (2002 and 2016) for the city. Unlike many other cities, the city of Helsinki is both the main town planning authority and the principal landowner explaining its controversial approach to its green spaces. In these master plans, the city has allocated some of its green spaces for development in contrast to a global trend. Simultaneously, it has enhanced the roles of green spaces emphasising ecology and sustainability providing meagre information about the development of green space.
Matti O. Hannikainen

The Right to Green: Multiple Perspectives

Chapter 10. The Democracy of Green Infrastructure: Some Examples from Brazil and Europe
With the understanding of nature in terms of ecosystem services and the recognition of the vital role these play for human well-being (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005), the value of the natural realm is scientifically and socially defined while at the same time institutionalized. Within this frame of interpretation, nature is a supplier of provisioning, regulating and cultural services, thus becoming not only a life-enabling factor for humanity but also a conceptual construct comparable to cornerstones of democracy, such as equality, freedom, and citizenship. The idea of green infrastructure is another recently coined term envisioning nature in cities in the form of a network and enabling a broad life-furthering vision of society. Standards for green open spaces embedded in some planning frameworks further state the right for all to a common good. Yet, evidence shows that this common right is not always met. Within the current context of advanced and neoliberal capitalism, green areas are sometimes used as an added financial value for real estate, thus increasing restrictions to their free access and full utilization. In developing countries with young democracies, such as Brazil, this process implies another significant factor of social inequality insofar the restricted access to nature by the poorest people means also diminished food safety and the jeopardizing of certain cultural practices. In developed countries, loss of land for food production and movements reclaiming the right to the city by squatting unoccupied open spaces to initiate community gardens demonstrates that the access to green spaces is also problematic, although in different ways if compared to developing countries. This chapter contributes to this topic by discussing the inequality in the provision of green spaces in informal settlements and social housing development in Brazil, as well as in the globalized north. The chapter concludes with recommendations to enhance democracy through a just provision of nature in cities.
S. Caputo, V. Donoso, Fabiana Izaga, P. Britto
Chapter 11. Re-naturing the City for Health and Wellbeing: Green/Blue Urban Spaces as Sites of Renewal and Contestation
Widening citizen access to green/blue spaces is of critical importance to public health and for the socio-political sustainability of future cities. Using examples of empirical research from the global north, the UK, and the global south, Brazil, this chapter considers how ‘re-naturing the city’ approaches address these nested concerns. Focusing on four types of green/blue infrastructure: urban wetlands, landscaped urban squares, public aquariums and green wedges, we explore the beneficial and adverse impacts which these environments can have on human health and wellbeing, and discuss implications for social and environmental justice within widely differing global contexts. We find considerable overlap between the two countries in the potential of green/blue infrastructure to promote health and wellbeing and to support social justice considerations. However, in the case of Brazil we consider the potential negative consequences of human–nature connectivity, using virus transmissions by infected mosquitoes as representative of the challenges of green/blue infrastructure expansion.
Mary Gearey, Lynette Robertson, Jamie Anderson, Paula Barros, Deborah Cracknell
Chapter 12. Do Built Environment Assessment Systems Include High-Quality Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is understood to be a critical feature of sustainable cities, providing numerous benefits to people and wildlife. However, there are challenges associated with its planning, design and delivery related to skills and knowledge in the built environment sector and the importance placed on green infrastructure in the development process. The sector often turns to assessment systems to ensure that new developments are sustainable, with the standards and criteria they include being used to inform those responsible for delivering commercial and residential developments. This chapter examines thirteen systems commonly used internationally against the key characteristics of green infrastructure including its form as a multifunctional network, relationship with the strategic objectives for the area and functions for improving health and well-being, climate change resilience and nature conservation. The findings suggest that the majority of systems do not provide a robust assessment of green infrastructure against these characteristics. Although they do recognise many of the functions that green infrastructure can provide, they miss opportunities for the additive benefits that can be provided through a multifunctional network. Many of the systems will accredit developments to some degree with very little or no consideration of green infrastructure, giving the impression that it is not an essential component of new development. Built environment assessment systems play an important role in setting the standard for the sector and, as such, could contribute to  improving the quality of green infrastructure in the future.
Danielle Sinnett, Tom Calvert, Nick Smith
Chapter 13. Establishing Payment for Environmental Services in Urban Areas
The design and implementation of green infrastructures represents a step forward in the efforts to manage disaster risk reduction related to natural and man-made activities, as well as to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, these green infrastructures permeate public and private lands, increasing the challenges for putting such a concept into practice. In this context, this chapter presents and discusses the application of payment for environmental services (PES) as a strategy to promote the implementation of green infrastructures in urban areas. Therefore, we analyze the history of the urbanization process in Brazil, which has generated serious social and environmental problems. It is also presented that there are regulatory frameworks to promote urban planning and territorial management based on sustainability goals, focused on the City Statute. Based on these elements, the theme of green infrastructures, their concept, principles, benefits and their link to environmental services has been deepened, reinforcing the fundamental right to an ecologically balanced environment and to sustainable cities. Complementarily, the Brazilian cases of the cities of Extrema/MG and São Paulo/SP are presented as examples of the application of payment for environmental services as a mechanism able to drive the alliance between economic incentives and environmental protection. These initiatives demonstrate the potential of urban policy instruments in Brazil as a driving force for improving the environmental and social quality of life in cities.
José Antônio Tietzmann e Silva, Josyanne P. Giesta, Luciane M. de Araújo, Mariana R. R. dos Santos
Chapter 14. Perspectives on Green: Recent Urbanisation Works and Measures in Brazil and India
The current study intends to explore green infrastructure issues in recent urbanisation works and measures employed in informal contexts and peripheral areas in Brazil, in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and in climate-vulnerable areas in India, in the cities of Vijayawada and Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), highlighting the difficulties that arise in their implementation process and also considering their social inequalities. In São Paulo, we will focus on urbanisation works that deal with urban drainage, undertaken by the local municipality and the state’s government (Tietê Meadows Park). In Rio de Janeiro, we will analyse urban projects for two bus rapid transit (BRT Transoeste and Transcarioca) lines that are a part of the recent works in public transport launched by Rio’s municipality in the context of the preparation of the city to host big international events. In India, the selected cities were Vijayawada and Guntur that are strongly affected by the escalation of the social and environmental vulnerabilities tied to climate change, such as cyclones that have great impacts on the low-income population. We approach scales that are often divergent or opposite, typical of cities in developing countries, which underwent a vertiginous demographic and territorial growth in the past century and will continue to grow in the present. We search to envisage aspects and contexts in which concepts of green infrastructure were or are being incorporated, outlining their complexity and the public administration inertia when it comes to intervene in urban spaces. Despite the geographical distance that separates Brazil and India, and all their great sociocultural differences, in what it regards urbanisation works and measures and the environment it seems that both countries would be going through similar issues, where there is a foundational gap between practices from the past and discourses towards the future.
Fabiana Izaga, José Guilherme Schutzer, Komali Kantamaneni

Systemic Planning for Resilient Green and Blue Cities

Chapter 15. Understanding and Applying Ecological Principles in Cities
Renaturing cities requires a thorough understanding of how plants and animals interact with the urban environment and humans. But cities are a challenging environment for ecologists to work in, with high levels of heterogeneity and rapid rates of change. In addition, the hostile conditions often found in cities mean that each city, and region of a city, can have their own unique geographical context. In this chapter, we contrast urban ecological research in the UK and Brazil, to demonstrate the challenges and approaches needed to renature cities. In so doing, we provide a platform for global transferability of these locally contextualised approaches. The UK has a long history of urbanisation and, as a result of increasing extinction debts over 200 years, well-established urban ecological research. Research is generally focused on encouraging species back into the city. In contrast, Brazil is a biodiversity hotspot with relatively rich urban flora and fauna. This rich ecosystem is imperilled by current rapid urbanisation and lack of support for urban nature by city-dwellers. By working together and transferring expertise, UK and Brazilian researchers stand a better chance of understanding urban ecological processes and unlocking renaturing processes in each location. We present one such method for applying ecological knowledge to cities, so-called Ecological Engineering, in particular by discussing ecomimicry—the adaptive approach needed to apply global ecological principles to local urban challenges. By reading the ecological landscape in which urban developments sit and applying tailored green infrastructure solutions to new developments and greenspaces, cities may be able to reduce the rate at which extinction debt is accumulated.
Heather Rumble, Fabio Angeoletto, Stuart Connop, Mark A. Goddard, Caroline Nash
Chapter 16. People-Policy-Options-Scale (PPOS) Framework: Reconceptualising Green Infrastructure Planning
As most developing countries continue to expand, they are required to employ more sustainable practices to ensure urban resilience is achieved. Green infrastructure (GI) is being increasingly discussed as a mechanism that can deliver social, economic and ecological benefits within and across cities to meet this challenge. However, across both developed and developing countries the influence of economic and political actors through legislation and investment practices could be considered to distort the development process leading to uneven and inequitable access to amenities and public green space. Such pressures lead to economically focussed master planning, which lack an understanding of ecological systems and the role of human–environmental interactions. By reconceptualising landscape and environmental planning using a novel People-Policy-Options-Scale (PPOS) framework, we argue that investment in GI can effectively address socio-economic and ecological issues simultaneously within politicised discussions of environmental management. Each aspect of the proposed framework is grounded in an understanding of planning and community development enabling it to draw on scalar, thematic and temporal aspects to sustainable development.
Ian Mell, Camila Sant’Anna, Karin Schwabe Meneguetti, Julia Rodrigues Leite
Chapter 17. For More Sponge Cities
There are signs of the influence of rivers since ancient times on urban morphology. Still present, though, these rivers often have been subsumed under the concrete and arid city landscape, and their significance is hidden in pipes and pushed into canals. To reconsider rationalist urbanism and reintroduce an environmental perspective to urban territories is now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, more important than ever. Drainage-based proposals that are associated with the urban design are presented as innovative solutions to contemporary urban and environmental issues. Similar examples are seen in recent Chinese urban policy: Sponge Cities and in Unesco’s (Soluciones basadas en la naturaleza para la gestión del agua. Unesco: Programa Mundial de las Naciones Unidas de Evaluación de los Recursos Hídricos, Relatório Completo, Paris, 2018a) concept of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS). To reflect on this issue and relating it to Goiânia, Brazil is the goal of this study. Goiânia is a planned city, founded in the 1930s as the new capital city of the state of Goiás in Brazil’s Center-West region. Although it is a planned city, urban growth dissociated to proper urban policies led to the identification of urban and environmental issues since its early decades. The analysis went from normative changes intended to regulate land use and occupancy, expressed in its land-use plans, to the basic premises orienting the elaboration of 2017 Metropolitan Planning, in which water management is reclaimed as a prime condition for regional development. The results point to a metropolis that is organized by the logics of the real estate market, which has resulted in, among other problems, the compromising of its water resources by urban expansion and the lack of efficiency of urban policies intending to benefit urban rivers.
Karla Emmanuela Ribeiro Hora, Maurício Martines Sales
Chapter 18. Green Infrastructure in the Space of Flows: An Urban Metabolism Approach to Bridge Environmental Performance and User’s Wellbeing
Recent research demonstrates that urban metabolism studies hold ample scope for informing more sustainable urban planning and design. The assessment of the resource flows that are required to sustain the growth and maintenance of cities can allow gaining a clear picture of how cities operate to comply with environmental performance standards and to ensure that both human and ecosystem health are preserved. Green infrastructure (GI) plays a key role in enhancing both cities’ environmental performance and health. For example, GI interventions mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect (improved thermal comfort), reduce particulate matter concentration (healthier air quality), and sequestrate and store atmospheric carbon (climate change mitigation). Research on ecosystem services and the application of the concept in urban planning provides a growing evidence base that an understanding of provisioning and regulating services can facilitate more environmentally informed GI planning and design. The contribution of GI in enhancing human health and psychological wellbeing is also evidenced in recent studies valuing both material and immaterial benefits provided by urban ecosystems, including cultural ecosystem services. Therefore, the use of ecosystem service frameworks can help reveal and quantify the role of GI in fostering both urban environmental quality and the wellbeing of human populations. However, there remains little discussion of how health and wellbeing aspects can be integrated with environmental performance objectives. In this chapter, urban metabolism thinking is proposed as a way forward, providing analytical tools to inform environmentally-optimized strategies across the urban scales. Opportunities to foster integrated urban metabolism approaches that can inform more holistic GI planning are discussed. Finally, future research avenues to incorporate the multiple dimensions of human health and wellbeing into urban metabolism thinking are highlighted.
Daniela Perrotti, Ornella Iuorio


Chapter 19. Re-naturing our Future Cities
Cities need nature. They thrive on riparian corridors, urban forestry and public spaces. Without urban nature, our cities would overheat, flood and become quickly unpleasant to live in. Therefore, a basic principle of urban planning is nature, and an understanding of the capacity and functionality of the natural environment is critical to our creation and management of sustainable cities. How we achieve this is, however, more variable and subject to a range of political, socio-economic and ecological factors, many of which have been explored within this book.
Ian Mell, Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Planning Cities with Nature
Dr. Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Dr. Ian Mell
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