The Town In Partnership With The Environment

A Space- and Environment-Saving Model for Settlements 1
Ernst Lung, Rainer Mayerhofer, Franz Skala

The aim of the "Institut für ökologische Stadtentwicklung" is to formulate sustainable solutions for an urban structure offering best conditions for an ecologically compatible transport system and supply of energy and to implement this structure in building a new settlement as a model for a sustainable urban development.

A promising alternative to meet the exploding sprawl of metropolitan areas is to concentrate the future construction of buildings in dense settlement units integrated between existing settlements in a linear development (chain of settlements). These settlement units, well separated from each other by green belts, are concentrated in walking distance around the stations of a public transportation line (an existing regional railway or a new extended city-line).

This results in a "city of short distances", if a balanced mixed use is achieved. Residences, places of employment, schools, shops and services, social and leisure institutions should be easily accessible for pedestrians. Therefore the development of instruments enabling for the inhabitants to find employment within the settlement unit is of special importance (to prevent commuter-traffic).

An ecologically compatible urban transport can beNutzungsmischung obtained optimally in a complex combination of ecological modes of transport: to walk, to bike, to use public transport. Therefore the urban structure should be designed to favour these modes.

The area of the units covered with buildings is limited by comfortable walking-distance. The boundary line for building against the surrounding natural landscape should be observed strictly to bring about a compact city. To obtain a space-saving urban structure as well as the minimum number of inhabitants allowing a balanced mixed use with a great variety of ecologically working business and trade facilities an appropriate density in this area is necessary.

The spatial distribution of all different facilities in this area is determined by the best opportunities for supply with goods and for the accessibility by the users adjusted with the frequency of use. So facilities with demand for transport of great quantities of goods respectively heavy products should be situated along the main axis of the settlement unit (trade in central sites, ecologically-compatible production enterprises at the boundary). For the positioning of all other facilities passenger traffic is the determinating factor - facilities, which only exist once in a settlement unit form the centre to guarantee best accessibility for all inhabitants; facilities which are required more frequently are joined in subcentres.

The determining element regarding building structure is the orientation of buildings towards the sun thus granting the maximum heat gain. By preventing energy losses as far as possible, by active utilization of solar energy, the implementation of long-term storage and energy generation using wind, biomass and water power the use of fossil energy can be minimized.

1 Abstract of: Die Stadt im Umweltverbund; Institut für ökologische Stadtentwicklung - Ernst Lung, Rainer Mayerhofer, Franz Skala (contribution for "International Days for Sustainable Urban Transport", Linz 1998)

An Ecocity as Space- and Environment-Saving Model for Settlements, Institut für ökologische Stadtentwicklung (contribution for the Conference MAKING CITIES LIVABLE, Freiburg im Breisgau 1995)...........back to the top


Spatial Distribution of Urban Functions

Location Urban Function Technical Infrastructure
In the center Central facilities of higher rank:
- Primary, secondary and highschool,
- church, municipal hall,
- medical specialists,
- hall for events (cinema, theatre, concerts, congress etc.),
- special restaurants, pubs, hotels,
- social welfare center, pharmacy.
Station of public transport, mobility management center, pedestrian area (main square and paths),

facilities for utilization of solar energy (active and passive thermal use, photovoltaics).

Along the primary axis Facilities of higher rank demand:
- Trade, handicraft, offices,
- post office, bank,
- restaurants, pharmacy.
Track of public transport (rail, buslane),
sheltered pathways,
utilization of solar energy.
In subcenters or on secondary axis
Facilities for daily demand:
- grocery, kindergarten,
- general practitioner, dentist, - - offices, craft-centers, recreational facilities,
- inns and coffee-shops.


utilization of solar energy.

Distributed in the area
Residential areas with playgrounds, green areas etc.,

partly offices,

recreational facilities.

Pathways and cycle-paths, utilization of solar energy.
Outskirts at the primary axis Crafts and small industries with low impact on the environment, sport facilities. Stop of public transport, parking areas, goods distribution center, pathways and cycle paths, cogeneration power plant.
Outskirts off the primary axis Agriculture, forest,
park, free nature.
Pathways and cycle-paths, wind energy park.

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