Event paper Deposited for RESILIENCE, in Registration Forms

(October 2012) Understanding Vacant Land: a way towards resilient urban fabrics.

Understanding Vacant Land: a way towards resilient urban fabrics. image
Context
Sustainable development has been promoted in Europe, since the beginning of the 90's, through a series of spatial policies that have pushed forward a polycentric urban system model and a new understanding of the relationship between rural and urban areas (European Commission, 1999).

Accordingly, a whole set of European programmes (ESDP, EU-LUPA, Corine Land Cover, etc.) have been put in place so as to better comprehend the growth patterns of European countries, to forecast their future scenarios and to propose the convenient strategies to couple growth and sustainability.

Nevertheless, the scale and growth-led strategies of these programmes (Reginster, 2006) are not fitted for the analysis of changes taking place in the already built-up urban areas. Therefore, much of these alterations have been barely studied. One of these is the emergence and endurance of Vacant Land.

The European Commission has recognized that ‘compact cities' and ‘land recycling' are innovative ways of planning for sustainability and deal with urban sprawl (European Commission, 1999). Hence, it could be expected that tackling the existence of Vacant Land within the built-up areas were a matter of overriding relevance on political and town planning agendas. Nevertheless, the literature review has revealed that there is little research done on this subject.

Hypothesis and methodology
The hypothesis here is that a common pattern of Resilient Factors (Alexander, 1966; Marshall, 2011; Ruiz, 2002) namely Land Ownership, Land Uses, Location and Morphology, could be at the root of Vacant Land existence. Finding this common pattern and assessing the ways in which planning system deals with these Factors is the main aim of the research.

In so doing, a comparative studies research will be carried out, using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Madrid and London will be the two case studies considered.

Expected Outcomes
Proving the existence of a Resilient Factors pattern in Vacant Land would bring some attention to its physical dimension, currently dominated by economic and governance issues. Moreover, the pattern would hopefully highlight the importance of implementing planning proposals in an incremental way, allowing Temporary Uses to take place and altering the lot pattern piecemeal.

Ultimately, addressing the issue of Vacant Land would make our cities' urban fabric more resilient.

References
ALEXANDER, C (1966) A city is not a tree, Design, 206, pp. 46-55.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (1999) ESDP. European Spatial Development Perspective. Towards Balanced and Sustainable Development of the Territory of the European Union. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2006) Urban sprawl in Europe. The ignored challenge. EEA report, No 10.

MARSHALL, S. (2011) Urban coding and planning. Routledge, Oxfordshire.

RUIZ, J. (2002) La ensenanza del urbanismo y la ensenanza de la practica del urbanismo. Un proyecto docente en el marco de la realidad urbana compleja. Cuadernos de Investigacion Urbanistica, Instituto Juan de Herrera.

REGINSTER, I., ROUNSEVELL, M. (2006) Scenarios of future urban land use in Europe. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol.33, pgs. 619-633.