Thursday, May 5, 2011


by G. Schiller and  S. Siedentop

Previous research regarding the effects of urban form on public costs induced by investment, operation and maintenance of network-related technical infrastructure (e.g. water, sewage disposal, streets) is characterised by a growth paradigm. Most of the available studies are intended to show that substantial costs savings can be achieved by increasing urban densities and locating new development near existing built-up areas. In most “Cost-of-Sprawl-Studies,” cost estimations are based on the assumption of constant population densities and consumption levels over time. But for many cities and regions all over the world facing population decline and economic stagnation this postulate seems inappropriate. The decrease of population densities is strongly linked with additional costs. In general, fewer residents have to pay more for oversized infrastructure facilities.
A serious problem of estimating infrastructure costs in shrinking communities is an ongoing decoupling of residential and population density and the phenomenon of “remanence costs”. This requires new tools to estimate future infrastructure costs– a precondition for a necessary adaptation and reformulation of beaten tracks. This paper tries to address those requirements and introduces a tool to calculate infrastructure costs on the regional level, considering the costs of both growth and shrinkage.

more about urban form:

Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land

A Libertarian View of Urban Sprawl

A comparison of urban shrinkage in Baltimore (Maryland, USA) and Osaka (Japan) : reversed patterns of urban decline ?

Revitalization of Urban Areas through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – Trends and Expectations for Shrinking Cities


A Business Improvement District (BID) is a geographically defined and mostly inner city area by which property and business owners make a collective contribution to the maintenance, development and marketing/promotion of their commercial district. BIDs typically provide services such as street, sidewalk, park and open space maintenance, enhanced safety and security, marketing, capital improvements, and various development projects. The services provided by BIDs are a supplement to the services already provided by the municipality. The concept of BIDs was started in Toronto, Canada in the 1970s and there are now more than 1.700 BIDs worldwide.
In this paper, the focal point of the considerations consists in pointing out the role and importance of new BID activities in Germany, which has had to operate under increasingly difficult conditions. Firstly, more and more regions, especially in Eastern Germany and the Ruhr Region, are demographically shrinking regions. Only a few cities will grow in the next 20 years, so that Germany will have to deal with greater regional disparities in the near future. Secondly, due to the fact that the budget gap of the communities is getting larger and larger, more than ever BIDs could be a reasonable downtown management strategy to revitalize urban areas. The article exemplifies the trends and expectations to establish BIDs in Germany and Europe by addressing the questions: how BID activities affect the retail economy and whether their strategies promote sustainable urban regeneration in downtowns in the long term.
Furthermore, the article explains the BID concept in the Federal Republic of Germany and outlines the improvements and services a BID is specifically enabled to undertake under German Law. As a pioneer, the city of Hamburg established a “Law of Strengthening Retail Districts” which entered into force as from January 1, 2005. Under the terms of the law a BID is a temporary organization – working for five years. The establishment of the individual BID needs the support of 2/3 of the local businesses and property owners. It is funded by a special tax based on the commercial space (local businesses) or the value of the properties – which is why the Hamburg pilot project will require special legislation. In Hamburg, the BID organises physical and organisational improvements, e.g. management of the neighborhood, waste management, parking, street lighting, coaching of shopkeepers, marketing campaigns and events.

more posts about urban revitalization:

Partnership, Collaborative Planning and Urban Regeneration

Strategic Urban Planning and Design Tools for Inner City Regeneration: Towards a Strategic Approach of Sustainable Urban Form Future The Case of Bandung City, Indonesia

Norman Foster promotes the urban sustainability of Duisburg by regeneration masterplan

SHRINKING CITIES—Growing Domain for Urban Planning?

by Tim Rieniets

Our understanding of urban planning is closely connected to an assumption of ongoing demographic and economic growth. Its concept of planning is above all a result of accelerated urbanization associated with industrialization and its demand for adequate urban solutions. Growth had to be controlled and designed in the interest of society. Since then, urban planning has had a quasi causal relationship with urban growth. Its methods, visions, and values, only become justified through the assumption of continuous growth.
However, economic and demographic indicators, in particular in developed countries, are clearly signaling that the epoch of stable and continuous growth was a historical episode. Urban growth, which was characteristic for most European cities during industrialization, has already slowed down since the first half of the twentieth century, and for an increasing number of cities and regions stagnation or even shrinkage have taken its place (Fig. 1).
Today’s urban planning, however, is completely unprepared for the new tasks associated with urban shrinkage: it possesses neither the suitable visions, adequate experience with regard to its own urban planning options, nor established methods and instruments for execution.
The causes and characteristics of shrinking cities are as manifold as cities in general. The shrinkage of cities means simultaneous quantitative and qualitative changes, which cannot, however, be said to follow a basic homogenous pattern. In quantitative terms, shrinking cities can be characterized by a decreasing population, in many cases preceded by a drop in economic prosperity. In qualitative terms, the shrinkage of cities may comprise changes in social and economic patterns, and in lifestyles and cultural values. In this article, however, shrinking cities are primarily defined by significant population losses.i
As taken up in the first part of this essay, an increasing number of cities entered a phases of population loss in the twentieth century (1).ii Hence shrinking cities are not a recent phenomenon, and architects and planners have been confronted with shrinkage for various reasons. In the light of seemingly inexhaustible economic growth, however, shrinking cities have been ignored, forgotten or considered taboo. With more and more urban planners unable to draw on their own experience or expertise, they instead opened up new processes of discussion and experimentation, as I will briefly summarize in the second part of this article. All the same, this quest obviously indicates only the beginning of a prolonged and comprehensive process within which urban planning needs to question its methods and values, as I will suggest below in part three.

more posts about urban form:

Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land

MEASURING THE CONFIGURATION OF STREET NETWORKS: the Spatial profiles of 118 urban areas in the 12 most populated metropolitan regions in the US

A Libertarian View of Urban Sprawl