Research Actvill
Identification of the instruments needed for

Research report

Planning studies centre - 1996


italian version


The Actvill research was promoted by the Commission of the European Union within the framework of one of its programmes, namely City action RDT programme (acronym: Actvill), which constituted the introduction to a large study of opinions, evaluations and planning which the Commission of the European Union (EU) had initiated. (DGXII- A/3-FAST).

The present research was born within the framework of the studies anticipated for this Actvill Programme, for which the Planning Studies Centre (Centro di studi e piani economici) had been selected in a public European contest in 1994. In fact, the centre elaborated and presented a research project keeping the course of the Actvill programme and, once it had won the contest, took into partnership another six research institutions of the countries to which the project's field of examination had been limited: France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. Those institutions composed - with some of their researchers - the Research group .

The title of the research project as presented by the Centre was: Identification of the means necessary for an integration of the city into its regional environment.

The research came to an end in 1996 and gave rise to a Report , of which we supply the Index below.



Preface: Towards a New European Urban System Concept and Strategy

Chapter 1: The Research Goals and General Framework
1. Introduction: The Programme Goals
2. A Critical Aspect of the Approach to the City Action RDT Programme:
Their Interdependence

Chapter 2: The Research Subjects, Approaches, and Operations
1. The Main Problems and Challenges to Be Faced
1.1 The Emergent Problems from the Conflict of Different Objectives of
Urban Development
1.2 The Problems of the Urban Environment
1.3 The Role of the City-Effect
1.4 Larger Cities and Medium and Small Sized Cities
2. The Approach to the Objectives of an Urban Policy
2.1 The Two Objectives of Any Urban Policy: City Effect and Liveability 2.2 The Interdependency Between the Two Policies
2.3 The Typical Strategy for the Great Cities (LC Type)
2.4 The Typical Strategy for Medium and Small Sized cities (SMC Type)
3. Dossier of Parameters for the Urban Policy
3.1 The Need to Provide the Two Strategies (of the Urban Policy) with
Greater Cognitive Instruments
3.2 The Necessary Cognitive Instruments Postulated
3.3 The Suggested Approach: To Search for the Optimal Centrality
4. The Content and Procedures of the Main Operations Carried Out by the
4.1 The First Research Operation: To Select Urban Indicators
4.2 The Second Research Operation: Empirical Verification of the
Selected Urban Indicators
4.3 The Third Research Operation: Definition of the Operational
Framework of the Urban Policy

Chapter 3: Specifying the Contents of Optimal Centrality
1. The Definition of the Contents of the Optimal Centrality and of Their
Constituting Parameters
1.1 The Demographic Component
1.2 Frequency of Use of Superior Urban Services
1.3 The Accessibility to Superior Urban Services
1.4 Sufficient Public Spaces
1.5 A Mix of Fundamental Spatial Functions
1.6 Urban Structure and Morphology
1.7 The Communications Network
2. The Expected Results in Terms of Articulation of Optimal Centralities in
the Four Countries Studied
2.1 Examination of the Urban Framework Situations
2.2 Distribute in the Territory a Reorganisation of the Centralities
2.3 Strategy of Urban Transport to Be Adopted in Each of the Urban
Systems Designed
3. The Optimal Centrality as a Guideline for a New Urban Policy
Chapter 4: Specifying the Concept of Decision Structured Approach
1. The Determinant Factors of "Optimal Centrality"
2. Descriptive vs. Decision-Structured Approach
3. Focus and Generalisations
4. The European City and Its Problems as Reference

Chapter 5: Specifying the Concept of Urban System
1. The Systemic Approach to the City
2. The Pitfalls of a "Systemic Approach" to the City
3. The Appropriate Spatial Unit of Evaluation and Planning
4. A Pragmatic Approach to the Urban System Concept

Chapter 6: The Search for the Indicators
1. The Process of Indicator Building: City Effect
2. The Process of Indicator Building: Overload
3. The Relevant Phenomena for the Definition of City Effect and Overload
3.1 City Effect
3.2 Overload Effects
3.3 Other Relevant Phenomena for City Effect
3.4 Other Relevant Phenomena for Overload Effect
4. The Debate on Optimal Centrality
5. Towards a "Core List" of City Effect and Overload Indicators

Chapter 7: Lifestyles, Standards, and Planning
1. Planning and the Change of Lifestyles
2. Standards

Chapter 8: Measuring the Quality of Urban Life In a Sample of European Cities
1. France
1.1. The Cities
1.2 Methodology
1.3 Summary Results
2. Germany
2.1 The Cities
2.2 Methodology
2.3 Summary Results
3. Italy
3.1 The Cities
3.2 Methodology
3.3 Summary Results
4. United Kingdom
4.1 The Cities
4.2 Methodology
4.3 Summary Results

Chapter 9: Measuring the Quality of Urban Life: Some Econometric and Statistical Approaches
1. A French Study
1.1 Methodology
1.2 Analysis of the French Data
1.3 Conclusions of the French Study
2. A German Study
2.1 Methodology
2.2 The Significance of the Influence of Urban Scale on City Effect and
Urban Load Indicators
2.3 Generalisation of City Effect and Urban Load
2.4 Conclusions of the German Study
3. An Italian Study
3.1 Methodology
3.2 Analysis of the Italian Data
3.3 Conclusions of the Italian Study
4. Conclusions

Chapter 10: Towards a List of Optimal Centrality Indicators
1. France
1.1 Indicator Elaboration
2. Germany
2.1 City Effect Indexes
2.2 Urban Load Indexes
2.3 Selected City Effect Indicators
2.4 Selected Urban Load Indicators
2.5 Indicator Elaboration
3. Italy
3.1 City Effect Indicators
3.2 Urban Overload Indicators
3.3 Indicator Elaboration
4. United Kingdom
4.1 Indicator Elaboration
4.2 City Effect Indicators
4.3 Overload Indicators
5. City Effect and Urban Overloading: A Proposed List of Indicators and

Chapter 11: General Lines of a European Urban Systems Policy
1. The Theory of Town Planning as a Foundation of Urban Systems Policy
2. The Presuppositions and Significance of a National and European Urban ù
Systems Policy
3. Converging Uniform Criteria and Goals of Urban Systems Policy
3. National Experiences in the Direction of the Constitution of a "Framework of Territorial Reference"

Chapter 12: The Requirements of the Modern City (Urban System)
1. The Definition of the Requirements of the City
2. Size Requirements
3. Internal Accessibility Requirements
4. Economic Integration and Pluralism of Activities
5. Ecological Equilibrium Requirements
6. The Perceptible (Aesthetic or Historical-Cultural) Image
7. The Nature and Quality of "Superior" Urban Services

Chapter 13: A Proposed Typology for the New Urban Systems
1. A Taxonomy of the Urban Systems to Support the Work of Identification
and Proposal
2. The "Structure" of Urban Systems
3. The "Form" of Urban Systems
4. The "Quality" of Urban Systems
5. Typology According to Plan Strategy
6. The Strategy as Interdependency

Chapter 14: A Tentative Scenario of Spatial Reorganisation (By Urban System) in the Four Countries Studied
1. Premise: Meaning and Limits of the Formulated Scenario of Urban
2. The Structural and Morphological Diversity of the Urban Framework
Inherited from the Past in the Four Countries Studied
3. The Proposed Territorial Reorganisation in its Historical National Context
3.1 The French Case
3.2 The British Case
3.3 The German Case
3.4 The Italian Case
4. The Scenario of Urban Territorial Reorganisation
4.1 The French Scenario
4.2 The German Scenario
4.3 The British Scenario
4.4 The Italian Scenario

Chapter 15: The Strategies for the Creation of New Urban Systems
1. Appropriate Strategies for Each Urban System Typology
2. The Strategy of Polarisation
3. The Strategy of Depolarisation
4. The Strategy of Rationalisation
5. The Character of Interdependency of the Strategies

Chapter 16: The Implementation Policies of the Urban Systems
1. The Implementation Policies and Traditional Town Planning
2. Guidelines for Implementation Policies of Urban Systems
3. The Promotion of the Urban Image and Identity
4. The Satisfaction of the Need for "Superior" Urban Services
5. The Rational Location of New Residences and Building Structures
6. The Creation of "System" Urban Transport

Chapter 17: The Functional Components for the Planning of the New Urban Systems
1. Functions and "Parts" of the Territory
2. Area and Delimitation
3. "Free" Areas and "Intensive" Areas
3.1 The "Intensive" Area
3.2 The "Free" Area
4. The "Load-Bearing Axis" and its "Halo"
5. The "Supporting Directrices"
6. The "Centralities" and the "Services" Nuclei
7. Special Sub-Systemic Structures (of Environmental or Historical-Cultural or Mixed Recovery)

Chapter 18: Criteria and Strategic Guidelines for a Design of Urban Transport at the Scale of Each Urban System
1. The "Land Use - Transport” Relationship and the Urban Systems
2. Criteria and Standards of a System Urban Transport Policy
3. The Design of an "Aimed Infrastructure" for the System Urban Transport
4. Other Design Criteria for the Urban Transport System of the System
5. The Logical Organisation of the Policy-Oriented Scenarios of the Land Use-Transportation Relationship at an Inter-Systemic Scale
5.1 The Route
5.2 The Flow
6.1 Essentialness
6.2 Maximisation of the Service Level
6.3 Tangentiality with Regard to Urban Systems
6.4 Minimisation of the Environmental Impact
6.5 The Maximum Utilisation of the Existing Infrastructure


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