(January 2010) Urban Green Space: Effects, Possibilities and Barriers in the Compact City (Abstract)

Urban Green Space: 
Effects, Possibilities and Barriers in the Compact City (Abstract)


The advantages of densification of the urban environments is often described as the reduction of land occupied by urban purposes and a potential for reducing energy for transport and heating (Newman & Kenworthy, 1989; Næss, 1993). Meanwhile critiques question the liveability of the compact urban environment (Burton et al., 1996; Skovbro 2001) as well as the impact of compaction on the urban green environment (Pauleit et al., 2005). Additionally compact urban areas are particularly vulnerable to the expected effects of climate change (Gill et al., 2007; Kuttler, 2008; Oke, 1987). This can contribute to a decreased liveability of the compact city.

By 2020, approximately 80% of Europeans will be living in urban areas. The European Commission points towards compact city development as "best practise" due to the rising housing needs and following demands for urban land. At the same time the need for an attractive setting for modern life is emphasised (EEA, 2006; CEC, 2004).

Urban green structures have great potential to increase attractiveness in a compact city context, as they contribute to reduce some of the disadvantages relating to the liveability of compact urban areas. Several studies have proven a correlation between spending time in green surroundings and the experienced quality of life and health (eg. de Vries et al., 2003, Stigsdotter, 2005 and Randrup et al., 2008). Besides from creating local recreational qualities, urban green space also contributes to the urban functionality eg. by handling changing precipitation patterns and rising temperatures expected from climate change (Gill et al., 2007).

Objective and research questions

The objective of this research project is to understand how working with green structures and urban planning can contribute to create attractive cities with both compact and green qualities. I will investigate how the character of the urban green structures affects the functionality as well as the use and perception of the areas.

First step is to identify a method to asses green structures in a compact city context focussing on the possibilities to improve liveability and functionality of the compact city areas. Then a number of cases will be analyzed with regard to distribution, structure, functionality, use, and perception. Then the urban green structure will be assessed focusing on the possibilities to improve distribution and functionality in the future  as well as identifying where areas suitable for future intensification are located according to the supply of green areas.

This paper will be based on the first case study, also functioning as a pilot study. Focusing on distribution and accessibility of urban green space in a compact city context, case areas will be identified based on the compactness of the areas. The case area will be the identified area and the close surroundings. The analysis will focus on structure, land cover, land use and, accessibility along with distribution of urban green in relation to compactness and socioeconomic characteristics. Furthermore I expect to be able to pinpoint areas of interest in relation to improve the distribution, functionality, and accessibility of the green areas.