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Oilandscapes. The reconversion of fossil fuels meshes as “green energy backbones” for the territorial restructuring of the third industrial revolution
Fossil fuels industry has always been carrier of huge spatial transformations: first of all, because the extraction of carbon-fossil resources requires the investment of huge amounts of funds to deploy a widespread infrastructural network, and secondly, because the associated industrialization process deeply contributed in the definition of new urban morphologies and settlements. We could affirm that fossil fuels and industrial revolutions represent two sides of the same coin. Since the end of XVIII century, the two industrial revolutions have been dominated by a fossil fuels’ monopoly in terms of energetic production, firstly driven by coal-based activities and later by oil. As already known, hydrocarbon resources are not equally and democratically distributed in the subsoil, and this has created over the centuries some vertical dependences between fossil fuels suppliers and consumers, which completely redefined the geo-political equilibrium among countries. One of the most remarkable effects of this unbalanced distribution of fossil resources in the subsoil had been, especially during the first industrial revolution, the territorial attractiveness of hydrocarbon-rich territories for the settlement of huge heavy industry sites. The consequent high concentration of employment reshaped the territorial hierarchies among population, countryside, urban areas and infrastructures. The aim of the first part of the paper is to investigate about the role that fossil fuels industry played in the definition of territorial hierarchies during the first and the second industrial revolutions. The analysis will be led through a comparative study of some GIS cartographies of two renowned European territories: the “Ruhr region” and the “central Veneto region”. In the second part of the paper, we will focus in a more proactive way on the “oil mesh of the North-Eastern Po valley” and wonder about how fossil fuels infrastructures could be “deengineered”, albeit maintaining their energy production identity, and imagined as “green infrastructures”, so becoming those landscape articulators which can foster the dialogue across territorial, urban and architectural scales thanks to their new socio-ecological role. The “scenario building” (Viganò, 2012 and Sijmons, 2014) will root its beliefs, assumptions and constraints around the vision of the “energetic transition towards the third industrial revolution” which, as advocated by the American economist J. Rifkin (2011), envisages a massive shift towards new renewable and territorially distributed forms of energy production.
Which standards for public open space? a new conception for the 21st century city
What all historical centres have in common is that they are built along streets, and streets make up most of their public space. Streets make up between 25 and 35% of the land area of these urban centres. It is not too difficult to see the impact of modern ideas of city planning on the urban fabric. Watch whatever city on google maps and shift outwards to almost any new development begun in the latter half of the 20th century. All these areas are characterized by having fewer streets; greater distances between intersections; mid to low building coverage; either high or low rise buildings and density; but always extensive open spaces, mostly green areas. Cities are made of buildings and the spaces between them, both private and public (Marshall, 2004). Planners and policy makers have invested more in the design and regulation of the built up areas, standards mandating parks and gardens being a notable though limited exception to the rule. The recent critique of contemporary urbanism, has stressed the need of interconnecting again the two separate halves. In this paper we deal with the problem of what should we demand from public open space (POS) in the cities of the 21st century. In particular, we address the question of the balance between streets, public parks and gardens. Eventually, we ask the question of how much POS is needed and what are the best ways to supply it? Until fairly recently, “orthodox” planning culture would have answered unanimously in favour of more parks and gardens, a trait severely criticized by Jacobs in the following quote: In orthodox city planning, neighborhood open spaces are venerated in an amazingly uncritical fashion, much as savages venerate magical fetishes… Walk with a planner through a dispirited neighborhood and though it be already scabby with deserted parks and tired landscaping festooned with old kleenex, he will envision a future of More Open Space (Jacobs, 1961, p. 96).
Evaluating neighbourhood sustainability assessment methodology as a localization tool for global targets
In the last two decades, global sustainable development concerns have become more decisive on urban development strategies. This new order also created two major sub-processes. While the first one mainly covers the interpretation of major scale sustainable development goals into subnational strategies, the second one includes providing a successful sustainability monitoring mechanism in coherence with national obligations for global sustainability targets. Sustainability assessment methodology (SAM) have gained importance by standing at the intersection of these two sub-processes. SAM tools have been developed in different geographies for monitoring and supporting sustainable development principles throughout the design and implementation processes. In this context, this paper presents a framework for the utilization of these methodologies in the localization of global sustainability targets through the case of Turkey. For this purpose, criteria of eight existing Neighbourhood Sustainability Assessment Tools (NSAT) were compared for obtaining a combined matrix. In the first stage, provided matrix evaluated in terms of global sustainability targets and Turkey’s national obligations. For providing a local framework and discussing the coherence between national sustainable development strategies and sectoral priorities. Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used as a simple prioritization technique and applied to decision makers, academicians, activists and project executors from different sectors. The applied framework brings a new perspective and provides an initial guideline for localization of global sustainability goals over discussions on Turkey.
Achieving spatial quality in integrated planning: an evaluation of the Dutch ‘room for the river’ program using qualitative comparative analysis
In line with recent trends towards area-oriented planning, flood risk management has seen a shift from a water control strategy towards a water accommodation strategy. In the Netherlands, this resulted in the policy program Room for the River. The projects in this policy program are expected to achieve two key objectives: first, the accommodation of higher flood levels, i.e., water safety, and second, improving the spatial quality of the riverine areas. Whilst research has shown that the program is successful with respect to increasing water safety, less is known about its second objective. This paper thus has two aims: (1) assessing the extent to which the program has been able to achieve spatial quality and (2) identifying the conditions that explain this. To these aims, archival and survey data were collected, and analyzed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). The analysis shows that there are various combinations of conditions for achieving spatial quality. We conclude that these different combinations entail different strategies, and that by means of those, the program management has been successful in achieving spatial quality in the Room for the River program.
Modeling ecological networks and land value for the prioritization of natural areas conservation
The strategy promoting Green Infrastructure (GI) from European institutions (2013) considers the spatial structuration of (semi) natural areas as a network and resulting environmental features impacting populations. The strength of the GI’s approach lies in the effort to integrate the ecological and social values of natural areas in combination with other land development (Lafortezza et al. 2013): this strategy encourage an integrated approach of space planning at different scales and promote the multiple services associated with natural areas. From a conservation biologist perspective, it is not a new idea, since it is based on environmental continuity, ecological networks and landscape connectivity. Yet, considering natural landscape as a network that offers a structural frame for the development of the biodiversity of tomorrow (and secure some ESS for our societies) forces to rethink our spatial planning approaches. Landscapes are seen in this paper as a dynamic and structured spaces with a social dimension where management and planning play a key role. Physically, landscapes are composed of artificialized components (Grey infrastructure) and natural components (Green infrastructures) in interaction. In France, planning process is historically a top-down process based on technical and professional expertise. After several decades of planning at national scale, French government tends to give more decisional power to regional and local scales (i.e., decentralization). Multiple guidance documents of soft planning such as SCOT (Schéma de Cohérence Territoriale/ territorial coherence program), present a mix between national, regional strategies and the translation of European directives about environment and socio-economy. Town planning regulations are now framed by this soft planning, but local collectivities still have to adapt it, dealing with all the contextual and operational components. Their task is to spatially, legally and institutionally define and regulate urbanistic rules at the finest scale (hard planning; Purkarthofer, 2016). Moreover, the planning process is gently opening to democratic participation with mitigate successes. We will focus on a problem coming from the difficulties to take account of the different values of natural areas. These values correspond to different estimations of natural areas in ecological or socio-economical terms.