Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
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Form of the City, Urban Sustainability,
and Landscape Quality
Rosalba D'Onofrio
The settlement model known as “ urban sprawl ”, which has been proposed
in recent decades, in addition to posing questions about the overall design
of the city, the definition of its limits, and the recognizability of the land-
scape , is calling the attention of experts, scholars, politicians, and private
citizens to its effects on the urban ecosystem. In particular, questions are
being raised about the consequences of urban sprawl on the splintering of
natural habitats; the compromise, simplification, and homogenization of
species and the landscape; the alteration of hydrogeological systems ; and
the modification of energy fluxes . In addition, the questions ask how these
changes influence the capacity of ecosystems to sustain human functions,
the well-being of the city's inhabitants, and their quality of life .
In this new perspective, the objectives of sustainable development and
the livability of the urban environment reinforce each other to the point of
hypothesizing that, to reach the general objective of a livable future in
urban areas, the design of the city itself must change. To date, the effects of
different shapes of the city , different densities, and different levels of
urban connectivity on the functioning of the ecosystems are not known; nor
is it known the way in which interactions between these different compo-
nents vary from place to place. For about 15years, groups of international
researchers have been investigating this theme on different spatial scales.
On the regional and metropolitan scale , we bring to attention, for exam-
ple, the studies by Forman [1]; on the urban scale, those by Girardet,
Nijkamp and Perrels [2], and others; and on the neighborhood scale, those
by Corbett and Corbett [3], Rudin, and Falk. Despite some attempts [4],
there is no common conceptual framework today that allows one to com-
pare these different approaches and consequently to move from them to the
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