Study says compact cities have worse quality

Study says compact cities have worse quality
Study says compact cities have worse quality

Barcelona, Spain.

And studywhich has analyzed 919 European cities, says that compact cities with high population density, such as Barcelona, ​​have rates of higher mortality, less green spaces, worst quality of aire and a greater effect of islaalthough less greenhouse gas emissions per capita

The research, by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published in The Lancet Planetary Health, has identified four basic urban configurations on the European continent.

These four urban forms are: high-density compact cities, low-rise and medium-density open cities, low-rise and low-density open cities, and low-density green cities.

The results show that greener and less densely populated cities have lower mortality rates, lower levels of air pollution and less urban heat island effect but a higher per capita carbon footprint.

In contrast, high-density compact cities have higher mortality rates, less green space, poorer air quality and a greater urban heat island effect, but lower greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions per capita.

Compact cities are characterized by a small surface area and high population density and also pedestrian areas, in addition to a moderate density of bicycle lanes and a low availability of natural green areas.

  • It is the urban typology with the largest number of inhabitants in Europe, with more than 68 million people, and the examples of this category mentioned by the study They are Barcelona, ​​Milan, Paris and Basel.

Cities of this type tend to facilitate short-distance mobility, as they usually have dense public transport networks and pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

Low-rise, medium-density cities have small areas, medium population densities and a relatively high density of roads for motorized traffic, with an intermediate availability of pedestrian zones, bicycle lanes and green areas, compared to other types of cities.

  • Brussels, Dublin or Leipzig are examples of this type of cities, according to the study from ISGlobal, a centre supported by the la Caixa Foundation.

Pisa, Oviedo and Toulouse are among the low-density open cities studied, which are characterised by a low availability of pedestrian areas and cycle paths and a moderate to high availability of natural green areas on the outskirts.

The research has also studied low-density, dispersed green cities with moderate availability of pedestrian zones and many cycle paths and natural green spaces, such as Helsinki, Rennes, Aarhus or Stockholm.

Tamara Iungman, researcher at ISGlobal and one of the lead authors of the studyconsidered that, after analyzing more than 900 cities in Europe, “we believe that, as the literature and experts point out, the compact city can continue to be the model of the future but in its current configuration it shows a low environmental quality and needs Overcoming important challenges“.

“The potential to reduce car dependency, accessibility on foot or access to services and opportunities for social interaction are clear advantages of the compact city model, but they still show a high presence of motorized transport and a clear lack of green spaces,” he added.

For her part, the co-author of the study and also a researcher at ISGlobal, Sasha Khomenko, stated that “the high levels of pollution atmospheric constitute a challenge particular for compact cities, to such an extent that if they could be reduced, they would also would reduce mortality rates significantly”.

Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, head of the Climate programme, said: Pollution Atmospheric, Nature and Urban Health at ISGlobal and lead author of the studyindicated that we must take advantage of “the potential of our compact cities through innovative modelssuch as superblocks, low-traffic or car-free neighborhoods, and incorporating alternatives like the solutions “nature-based solutions, including tree planting or green roofs and facades.”

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