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Midterm-Lucia Li

P4 Concept

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Project 1_Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

The paper presents a case study in the city of Imola, in the Emilia Romagna Region, Italy. It introduces a multi-criteria method for unitary projects related to open spaces along urban road networks, with a focus on green spaces at roundabout intersections, considering them as integral part of broader landscape systems, and therefore as an opportunity for the construction of green infrastructures. Its considered that roundabout intersections as a valuable part of the city’s open spaces network, and as potential component of urban green infrastructures, within the framework of overall landscape projects for mobility-related green areas. Moreover, since their location along urban roads makes them highly visible, roundabout intersections may become a way-finding system, or an opportunity to show to citizens and visitors distinctive places and characters of the city’s identity.

The paper present methodology for landscape master plans on existing urban roundabout systems, conceived as planning tool for urban planners and managers. The methodology is based on a paradigm of economic, social, environmental sustainability.

The study shows that the urban fabric is characterized by linear patterns deriving from historical systems (ancient roads and water channels), or by contemporary mobility infrastructures. And they concluded : Connections related to historical patterns assume a great cultural and fruition value. Connections that cross the urban fabric in the north-south direction (City-crossing Roads) are also mainly related to tracks of Roman origin, the ancient centuriatiopattern (Sereni, 1997). The railway is another relevant contemporary track. It is parallel to Via Emilia, and constitutes a boundary between the following urban areas. South of the railway, is the Urban Landscape-Residential Areas, with predominant residential function, private gardens, public green spaces, special function centers, shopping centers and services, and collective spaces of importance at the city-level;North of the railway, is the Urban Landscape-Productive Areas, with predominant productive function, sporadic public green areas, and punctual special function centers; Landlocked between the railway-line and the productive areas, is the Residential/Productive Interface Landscape, characterized by a lack of homogeneity of urban fabric, architectural lexicon and symbols, due to urban renewal processes through refunctionalization. So green areas, public parks and recreational equipment are mostly located within the residential zone. In the industrial zone, green spaces are fragmented, and mainly related to residual open spaces along mobility infrastructures.

Then the master plan is developed starting from a recognition of distinct macro-areas, and aims to define site-specific landscape functions and aesthetic characteristics for the roundabout intersections, depending on the macro-area to which they belong. In the urban territory of Imola, they identify a Residential/Fluvial Macro-area and a Productive/Interface Macro-area. For each macro-area, specific objectives and Garden Systems are planned, deepening specific design topics

research findings are as follows:

  • Urban greening is an opportunity to implement ecological connectivity and improve environmental quality in our cities. In parallel, it should be thought as an opportunity for urban renewal in a broader sense, addressing issues related to local culture and public space design.
  • A planning method through which any residual mobility-related green space of the urban context can be integrated in wider systems as tesserae of multi functional green infrastructures, and contribute to connect other urban green areas and relevant open spaces across the city.
  • Urban greening design concepts, and the individuation of vegetation species to be used, follow multiple objectives and expectations: landscape consistency, environmental compatibility, aesthetic and experiential quality, preservation and enhancement of cultural elements/values, and economic sustainability associated with low costs for public green areas maintenance.
  • Qualities listed in the previous point are assigned to hard urban places such as residual open spaces at road intersections, to guide users’ perception, to facilitate their orientation, and to assist with their recognition of distinctive places of the city.
  • The design tools and examples (or garden types) we delineated for small and linear spaces along the urban streets prefigure broader interventions to mitigate the effects of climate change and pollution within the urban environment, and also to raise awareness among citizens about such topics.
  • The design principles and the instructions proposed through the case-study development integrate existing roundabout intersection landscape guidelines.

Thus, the work provides an effective contribution to improve both environmental and aesthetic quality of the urban environment through planning and design practice.

In conclusion, the work promotes a design culture attentive to residual green spaces as part of broader landscape systems. By referring to small and medium-sized urban contexts, in which research and innovative planning and design experiences on urban greening are less frequent than in metropolitan contexts. The approach to the topic of green infrastructure, with particular reference to (residual) green spaces along urban road networks, combines established environmental issues with cultural, aesthetic and perceptual aspects. The case-study emphasizes the need to foster residential areas livability also through interventions (mobility-related gardens) at the small scale; we also highlight the benefits that a greening conceived at the landscape scale can provide in hardscapes with poor environmental and aesthetic quality (as industrial zones, for instance). Livability and environmental quality are objectives to be pursued widely, in the whole urban territory. The “demonstrative” gardens (garden types) proposed for the Productive/Interface Macro-area of Imola (case-study), within planning experiences in other locations, can be interpreted at a larger scale, and planting topics and techniques combined in more complex solutions.

Integrating various current and emergent issues on green areas design, the work contributes to increase guidelines and case-studies on green infrastructures, with particular reference to the urban environment, where even marginal spaces—as roundabout intersections’ green areas—are valuable tesserae to construct sustainable and resilient cities.

Dall’Ara, E., Urban Forestry & Urban Greening (2018),