Volume 15 (2021-22)

Each volume of Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal consists of four 100-page issues published in both print and online. Articles scheduled for Volume 15 are available to view on the 'Forthcoming content' page.

The Articles published in Volume 15 include:

Volume 15 Number 2 (Winter 2022)

  • Editorial: 
    Andrew Tallon, Editor, Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal
  • Practice Papers:
    Orange is the new colour of city competitiveness: The role of local governments in promoting cultural and creative industries
    Sameh Wahba, Global Director and Yuna Chun, Consultant, The World Bank

    Cities have the power to stimulate and harness culture, creativity and innovation for local development. Culture and creativity are invaluable assets with untapped potential to deliver spatial, economic and social dividends for both cities and local communities. Building on the Cities, Culture, and Creativity Framework jointly developed by the World Bank and UNESCO and reviewing lessons learned from cities around the world, this paper discusses how local governments can effectively leverage their decision making, convening power and financial resources to enable and support cultural and creative industries (CCIs) to flourish for city competitiveness. Specifically, the paper examines how local governments can foster the enabling environment and channel the support through their core functions and roles of: 1) public procurement; 2) service delivery; 3) regulating public and private space; and 4) facilitating enterprise support and incentives. Through strategic interventions across these domains and collaboration with key stakeholders, local governments can implement measures to address the constraints impeding the development and growth of CCIs and leverage them as a critical driver of sustainable urban development. While the degree of decentralisation of responsibilities, resources and capacities of each local government may differ, global experiences illustrate that the common denominator is visionary leadership that puts in place the policies and catalyses the enabling conditions to attract and nurture CCIs, coupled with the key creativity ingredients — local talent and the uniqueness of the place.
    Keywords: cultural and creative industries, local governments, city competitiveness, sustainable urban development, inclusive growth, urban regeneration, enabling environment

  • Rethinking green urban development: Case studies from Beijing
    Markus Delfs, Head of Cluster, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Jingjing Ma, General Manager, Nordiq Group

    Against the background of the international dialogue and action agendas regarding climate change and the protection of biodiversity, China has embarked during the past years on a new urbanisation approach, gradually advancing from an era of high-speed sprawl to one of more high-quality, green and low-carbon city development. Several national policies and strategies have been put in place, which are consequently rolled out at the sub-national level in provinces and cities. Energy efficiency in urban areas, nature-based solutions and new green ecological site developments are particularly important planning priorities fuelling the national government´s ambition to transform cities to be more liveable and sustainable. Further priorities are digitalisation and smart city approaches, as well as responding to COVID-19 implications in the sense of ‘green recovery’. This paper summarises the low-carbon development policy framework in China and provides three case studies of selected projects from the capital city, Beijing.
    Keywords: low-carbon city transition, sustainable urbanisation, urban energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, international cooperation, Beijing, China

  • The concept of a ‘regenerative city’: How to turn cities into regenerative systems
    Stefan Schurig, Secretary General and Karina Turan, Project Manager Advocacy and Convening, Foundations Platform F20

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been going through a veritable global ‘vulnerability experience’, ultimately revealing the interconnectedness of both global and local challenges such as health, pollution and climate change, biodiversity, and food and energy supply. The pandemic has prompted us to rethink the way our cities are designed in order to promote future-proof models that are in harmony with the local conditions and our planet’s boundaries. Any visionary role model of a city, however, is only as successful as it suggests clear transition pathways. This paper intends to show that the concept of a ‘regenerative city’ is such a model. Furthermore, it seeks to encourage to look at transitional trajectories ahead, be it in the food, energy, transport or health sector, from the implementational level of a city government. The regenerative city not only preserves the capacities and capabilities of ecosystems, but actively restores them by establishing closed, efficient and consistent material cycles between the city and the surrounding area. At the same time, the regenerative city is not only aimed at the regeneration of resources and the efficiency of ecosystems, it also has to regenerate its public spaces and built environments in a human-centred fashion, rather than centred on individual car use. One of the determining factors of a regenerative city aiming for greater resilience will be whether or not it is able to establish a restorative relationship with its environment, its hinterlands, and build a circular metabolism of goods.
    Keywords: regenerative city, health, climate change, urban transition, sustainability, local action

  • Research papers
    Visions of cities beyond the Green Deal: From imagination to reality
    Monica Maglio, Researcher, University of Salerno

    Cities face unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The challenges include the need to tackle phenomena from climate change to population growth, as well as how to bring the European Union (EU) closer to the goal of climate neutrality by reducing carbon emissions. The political-institutional focus to resolve these issues is urgently required. The interventions that are needed in cities to meet the Green Deal objectives are numerous and diverse (including energy, transport, nature and biodiversity, food and agriculture, green finance, as well as with respect to the circular economy [CE]). Diverse approaches are justified, to an extent, as the starting point is not the same for all cities involved in the transition (large, medium and small) and reaction capacities are different. Diversity can cause confusion, however, and this has been found in particular with so-called circular cities; the absence of a defined intervention model has caused some cities to adopt both narrow and wider visions, leading to many ‘circular imaginary’ cities. The origins of these visions have stemmed from the industrial rather than the urban context, with several adaptations being made. This paper starts by discussing the journey to sustainable cities — in particular the role of circular cities in the Green Deal — and then explores the existence or lack of strategies for circular cities. Amsterdam and Milan are used as case studies to explore whether and when circular cities can be considered cornerstones of the ecological transition.
    Keywords: circular economy (CE), city, urban development, sustainability, strategy

  • Quality of life and demographic-racial dimensions of differences in most livable Pittsburgh
    Sabina Deitrick, Associate Professor and Christopher Briem, Regional Economist, University of Pittsburgh

    This research examines quality of life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is well-known for its regeneration from its past as the ‘Smoky City’ and the ‘Steel City’. The shuttering of steel mills and manufacturing plants in the 1980s gave way to a more liveable city in the following decades. Pittsburgh’s post-industrial economic development and revitalisation has led to it receiving numerous accolades for liveability, but infrequently in mainstream and government centres the question is reposed: is most liveable Pittsburgh most liveable for everyone? This research examines results from the 2018 Quality of Life Survey in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and compares these results to a 2011 Quality of Life Survey, both conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR). The methods used include survey research analysis, statistical analysis and geographic information systems (GIS) to understand differences in how residents view Pittsburgh’s quality of life. The survey results are linked with data on community conditions and GIS to understand how differences in neighbourhoods affect residents’ subjective views of quality of life. The 2018 survey finds improvement in resident assessment of many quality of life indicators, but suggests that views of quality of life point to continued protracted problems, with African-American Pittsburghers reporting significantly lower levels of satisfaction on many quality of life indicators compared to white residents. This analysis contends that there are critical differences in liveability and quality of life among residents in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and the city and region have not done enough to address these differences in improving equity and social justice in Pittsburgh.
    Keywords: quality of life, liveability, neighbourhood conditions, geographic information systems (GIS), spatial analysis

  • Assessing the outcomes of area-based initiatives using neighbourhood sustainability assessment tools: The case of Groruddalen
    Eli Foss, Master’s student, Wiam Samir, Master’s student, Mansoor Sadiq, Master’s student and Judith Plummer Braeckman, Senior Research Associate, University of Cambridge

    This paper considers the introduction of area-based initiatives to Europe to tackle urban decline. Challenges evaluating outcomes of such initiatives are uncovered through a literature review. The paper then investigates whether neighbourhood sustainability assessments tools such as Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) can successfully capture the outcomes of area-based initiatives. With the use of a case study of the Groruddalen initiative, this study seeks to uncover the applicability of neighbourhood assessment tools to measure the performance of area-based initiatives. The results reveal that these tools can capture the outcomes of area-based initiatives to some extent. If these tools were to be developed further, however, they can prove to be an effective indicator of the performance of area-based initiatives.
    Keywords: area-based initiatives, Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), sustainability assessment tools, sustainable neighbourhoods, sustainable communities

  • Quantifying pedestrian retrofit measures of car-oriented settlements: The case of Pardis new town Phase 11
    Corinna Matzka, Student, Vienna University of Technology, et al.

    Car-oriented settlements have a negative impact on human beings and the environment. In many places, planners already try to densify such areas and retrofit infrastructure for pedestrians. While such measures are generally accepted for the improvement of liveability, it is still difficult to evaluate their impact. This paper aims to quantify proposed retrofit interventions for pedestrians in the new town of Pardis, Iran. Interventions are: introducing pedestrian zones, relocating parking spaces, traffic calming, removing barriers and decentralising facilities. Two different methods are used: 1) walking distances in combination with detour factors; and 2) space syntax. The results show that these methods are effective to quantify improvement for pedestrian retrofit measures. Even simple interventions such as removing fences have a measurable positive impact.
    Keywords: Iran, new towns, urban rehabilitation, detour analysis, space syntax, pedestrian

  • Book reviews
    Mapping the Croatian coast: A road trip to architectural legacies of Cold War and tourism boom
    Reviewed by Federico Camerin
  • The streets of Europe: The sights, sounds, and smells that shaped its great cities
    Reviewed by Federico Camerin

Volume 15 Number 1 (Autumn/Fall 2021) - Special Issue: The role of cities in the Green Deal

Guest-editor: Stefano De Falco, Political Science Department, Chief of IRGIT – Research Institute on Territorial Innovation Geography, University of Naples Federico II

  • Editorial: The role of cities in the Green Deal
    Stefano De Falco, Political Science Department, Chief of IRGIT – Research Institute on Territorial Innovation Geography, University of Naples Federico II, Guest Editor, Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal
  • Practice Papers:
    Virunga National Park: A possible governance model for Green Deal implementation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Alberto Corbino, President, Fondazione Cariello Corbino

    With the ‘Green Deal’ the European Commission has committed to sustainable development not only within its borders but on a global level. Due to its rapid demographic growth and sustained economic growth, Africa will certainly have to be recognised as a main economic player in the future and, therefore, a partner to strongly support in this transition phase. But, despite this continent’s enormous potential and the willing declarations of intent by political leaders, the governance of many countries still show a series of weaknesses, while their development strategies often lack long-term vision. The paper analyses the possibility of identifying in the governance of DRC Virunga National Park a potential model for reliable partnerships in ‘green transition’ cooperation policies.
    Keywords: Green Deal, Africa, governance, cooperation, conflict, corruption, national parks

  • The value of human capital in Green Deal-oriented smart cities
    Oliviero Casale, General Manager, UniProfessioni brand of MB Group

    This paper highlights the important role of human capital in green transformation processes. In particular, the proposed perspective is that of smart cities in which the technological factor must be combined with the human factor for sustainable development. In fact, to become smarter and more sustainable, a city must move towards the responsible use both of human and infrastructural resources. All this can be fostered by digital transformation and the use of emerging technologies, as well as through a strong connection with the territory and the active involvement of citizens, communities, businesses and institutions.
    Keywords: circular economy, Green Deal, sustainability, smart cities, human capital, k-workers

  • The evolution of the European Union’s Urban Agenda and the morphology of the Pact of Amsterdam
    Brian G. Field, University College London and Jeroen P. R. Bakker, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency

    This paper traces the evolution of the European Union’s Urban Agenda in pursuit of the headline objective of promoting the development of more sustainable cities and communities, culminating in the signing in May 2016 of the so-called Pact of Amsterdam. The latter seeks to establish codes of good practice in urban planning and development that are not only smart, sustainable and inclusive, but also more explicitly informed by climate change imperatives, and to encourage their formal adoption by the Member States of the European Union (EU). While the EU’s prevailing regulatory regime has often appeared somewhat cumbersome, the Pact seeks to challenge the prevailing regulatory environment where this might be impeding the delivery of more appropriate and resilient urban development policies by the respective Member States and/or compromising their successful implementation. The building of greener, smarter and more resilient cities is implicitly seen as the pathway to sustainability and, in the wake of climate change, the promotion and adoption of more climate-friendly urban planning and development protocols is therefore necessarily a key priority. Against this backdrop, the paper addresses the efficacy of the Pact’s objectives, and the adequacy of the proposed regulatory framework and associated toolkit to facilitate and incentivise compliance with its ambitions. It is a critical commentary, ie an appraisal of the key stages in the evolution of a European Urban Agenda that seeks to highlight the challenges that were posed to such intervention, not least by the EU’s subsidiarity precept, and might continue to threaten any strengthening of the agreed spatial development principles and/or further attempts to unify the regulatory framework across the Union as a whole.
    Keywords: EU Urban Agenda, Pact of Amsterdam, cohesion policy, European Investment Bank (EIB), sustainable development, resilient cities, smart cities, climate change, urban development, spatial planning, territorial cohesion

  • Research papers
    Critical raw materials and cities: A literature review
    Andrei Țăranu, Full Professor, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania, Daniela La Foresta, Full Professor and Andrea Cerasuolo, University of Naples Federico II

    This paper asks what is the relationship between critical raw materials and cities within the European Union (EU)? To answer this question, this study seeks to categorise research findings on critical raw materials through a literature review. For this purpose, publications about critical raw materials have been systematically searched using a multidisciplinary scientific bibliographic database. Several screening criteria were applied to ensure the utmost accuracy and specificity in the development of research. During the review, the papers and the other publications found were systematised by dividing them into three thematic sections according to the focus adopted: critical raw materials as pollutants; their recycling; and the new technologies that can be applied to them. The results of the review show that the development of cities and their regeneration will increasingly depend on critical raw materials. Moreover, these findings suggest that soon the professionals who deal with urban regeneration and renewal will have to manage more and more issues related to critical raw materials. Furthermore, a correct understanding of the relationship between critical raw materials and cities is essential to avoid manipulation by populist parties which could use these strategic materials to support their autarchic rhetoric.
    Keywords: critical raw materials, cities, populism, European Union (EU), recycling, pollution, new technologies

  • Smart cities and the sustainability of urban transport: Strategic directions for the metropolitan city of Naples
    Stefania Palmentieri, Researcher, University of Naples

    In light of the recent guidelines of the European Commission on the Green Deal, this paper aims to offer a strategic planning strategy for the development of intelligent mobility in Naples, the metropolitan city under investigation. In recent decades, congestion linked to the exponential growth in the number of private vehicles in circulation, together with the inefficiency of the public transport system, have made urgent the adoption of huge investments and initiatives to tackle these problems with participatory governance. The analysis conducted in this paper resulted from a questionnaire to a sample of citizens surveying their mobility habits, with the aim of understanding the reasons and consequences of the inefficiency of the public transport system in the metropolitan city. This study identifies a strategic line to follow to strengthen the intelligent mobility model, which aims above all to decentralise important and valuable functions from the centre to the periphery to decongest the city; one key strategy is the upgrading and revamping of the railway, road and IT infrastructures. The use of modern technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of the system and the adaptation of parking areas to facilitate positive change, on both an urban and a metropolitan scale, as well as improve the most-used metro stations, would represent further effective urgent steps.
    Keywords: smart mobility, transport system, urban planning, sustainable, metropolitan networks

  • Digital transformation and cities: How COVID-19 has boosted a new evolution of urban spaces
    Maria Nicola Buonocore, Post-graduate researcher, Mattia De Martino, Post-graduate researcher and Chiara Ferro Post-graduate researcher, University of Naples Federico II

    According to UN-Habitat, in 2020 there were 1,934 metropolises around the world, representing approximately 60 per cent of the world’s urban population. In 2020, 2.5bn people lived in metropolises, which is equivalent to one-third of the global population. Due to their structure and function, this typology of city has become central in tackling key urban challenges in recent years. Thanks to information communications technology (ICT), artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and big data analysis, they have demonstrated great flexibility in policymaking and innovation, rethinking their functions and spaces, and enhancing resilience and sustainability in order to provide better services in more efficient ways. Fifteen-minute cities, investment in algorithms for public mobility, conversion of abandoned areas into green spaces, are only some of the solutions adopted around the world in both developed and developing countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital processes, allowing for a reconsideration of urban environments, movement, and existence through the employment of new technologies and solutions. Therefore, the major goals of this research are to: 1) review the literature on the influence of ICTs on urban areas; 2) analyse the research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities; and 3) analyse new policies and resolutions on urban and city planning.
    Keywords: ICT, digitalisation, digital, technology cities, COVID-19, coronavirus, urban space, urban planning, suburbanisation

  • Public space and the green city: Conflictual narratives of the superblock programme in Poblenou, Barcelona
    Lluis Frago, Lecturer, University of Barcelona and Teresa Graziano, Lecturer, University of Catania

    This paper aims to critically scrutinise the competing perceptions of sustainability-oriented actions in urban public spaces by exploring the case of the Barcelona semi-central district of Poblenou, where a programme of green-driven regeneration has recently been developed as a pilot test for the whole city. We focus on some elements of the Superillas (Superblocks) programme, such as pedestrianisation and the green-driven regeneration of public spaces, in order to explore to what extent pro-green urban agendas and sustainability-oriented planning approaches are embedded in the ‘green ethical commitment’ of the ‘green’ city, whose narratives tend to overemphasise the benefits of urban green, disregarding compelling perceptions of public spaces. In so doing, the paper aims to provide new insights into the debate about public spaces, urban green and public perceptions, which can often mirror asymmetric power relations and competing visions.
    Keywords: public space, sustainability, urban planning, pedestrians, superblocks

  • Can urban agriculture be used to improve green infrastructure and social well-being? The urban garden in the Ponticelli neighbourhood of Naples
    Fabio Amato, Professor and Lucia Simonetti, Researcher, University of Naples

    Urban agriculture can be used to improve green infrastructure and social wellbeing and as a tool for the sustainable regeneration of urban environments. Furthermore, urban agriculture, including urban gardening, has emerged as a means to help improve food insecurity and tackle climate change. This paper focuses on the social urban garden located in the Ponticelli neighbourood on the eastern outskirts of Naples, which has around 70,000 inhabitants. This area originally had an agricultural economy but has now undergone uncontrolled building expansion and lacks an adequate supply of services for the community. The area also suffers from significant social and cultural problems, including high unemployment, school dropout rates and crime rates, which touch a large part of the population. The urban garden of Ponticelli represents an example of how social cohesion can be built through the expansion of urban agriculture, while at the same time contributing to the goal of sustainability and maintaining links to the rural economy. Yet the urban agriculture initiative risks remaining isolated and being of limited benefit to regional and metropolitan efforts for environmental sustainability if it is not framed within an overall metropolitan strategy for an urban agriculture programme.
    Keywords: urban agriculture, urban gardening, environmental resilience, Naples, Ponticelli

  • The role universities and cities can play in the EU’s Green Deal
    Stefania Cerutti, Associate Professor, Enrico Boccaleri, Associate Professor and Enrico Ferrero, Associate Professor, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

    Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome these challenges, Europe has shaped a new strategy, the European Green Deal, to help the EU’s economy become sustainable. Much of its success will be determined by European cities where around 75 per cent of the European population live, work, travel and study. This paper considers European cities and their universities, in particular their strategic role in addressing societal and environmental challenges, training the younger generation, investing in research and engaging local communities in the transformational actions urgently needed. In particular, concrete actions and steps made by the University of Piemonte Orientale (UPO) in Italy to address environmental sustainability and social responsibility are presented in this paper.
    Keywords: Green Deal, European Union (EU) policy, environmental challenges, sustainability, cities, universities