Sustainable City 2012
7th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability
7 - 9 May 2012
The 7th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability (The Sustainable City 2012) has recently taken place in Ancona, Italy, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology and the Polytechnic University of La Marche.
The conference Chairman was Professor Marco Pacetti, Rector of the University of La Marche, together with two of his colleagues, Professors Giorgio Passerini and Giovanni Latini, in addition to Professor Carlos A Brebbia, Director of the Wessex Institute of Technology.
The meeting was sponsored by the International Journal of Design and Nature and Ecodynamics and the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning. The conference book is part of the series WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment.
The Conference follows the successful series started in Rio (2000) and continued in Segovia (2002), Siena (2004), Tallinn (2006), Skiathos (2008) and La Coruña (2010).
To date, more than fifty per cent of the Earth’s population lives in cities. The process of urbanization made this percentage increase from a small number at the beginning of the nineteenth century to about thirty percent in the fifties. After that the figure has linearly increased so that, at the end of the last decade the cities’ population was more than half of that of the Earth. This process has generated many problems deriving from the drift of population towards cities. On the other hand, cities represent the most efficient habitat and increasing their number and the size is the most promising way to save resources without damaging our lifestyle. As a matter of fact, gathering within relatively small neighbourhoods increases efficiency of services which, in turn, leads to a higher quality and standard of life. Nevertheless, big cities face a number of major challenges to maintain such standards and develop further. Losses in efficiency lead to a waste of resources, which in turn means poorer quality of life.
All stakeholders need to appreciate the importance of cities and their role in the ecology of the entire planet. Metropolis’ would then lose their character of huge massively polluting entities and become welcome places to inhabit. Well organised cities are posed to become excellent places to live in. The turning point for this process was the sharp abatement of pollution achieved in the last part of the twentieth century by moving energy generation outside cities and by improving mass transportation infrastructure and systems. In fact, in its first stage of their development, most cities, to avoid decline and to keep growing, used – and often wasted – two vital sources; space and energy. At a certain point metropolitan areas hastily moved towards the neighbouring countryside, creating suburbs in a kind of centrifugal development which turned city centres into almost wastelands. At the same time energy consumption rose sharply together with average house square footage and distance to work place. The improvement of citizens lifestyle was almost completely based upon high consumption of goods and energy. The process led to an abrupt decline of environmental standards, ie pollution of air, soil and water; accumulation of waste within the urban areas and general reduction of quality of life with the related social problems. The next development stage had to aim at healing cities rather than letting them grow indefinitely. This turning point was the first step towards Urban Regeneration and Sustainability.
Although many issues regarding the importance of quality of life in major cities have been addressed, new challenges continue to arise. In the near past, city improvements came from a range of step by step upgrades and every progress usually meant an increase in energy consumption. Now we are all more aware that a tool, device or even living activities become more difficult to manage, repair or heal as soon as they grow in size and complexity. In this regard, big cities are probably the most complex mechanisms to manage. However, despite such complexity, cities still represent a fertile ground for architects, engineers and other key professionals able to conceive new ideas and tune them according to available technology and human regeneration.
Each conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability has shared such ideas and related case studies. The diversity of topics, concepts and papers are all indicators of the vast scope and complexity of the Sustainable City conference.
Opening Addresses and Prigogine Award 2012
The Conference was opened by the Rector of the University of La Marche, Professor Marco Pacetti, at a ceremony that took place at the Aula Magna of his Institution and was also the occasion for the award of the 2012 Prigogine Medal.
The Prigogine Medal was established by the University of Siena and the Wessex Institute of Technology to honour the memory of Professor Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry.
Professor Pacetti referred to the importance of the Medal as well as the topic of the conference which addresses the rapid changes taking place in the world in terms of population growth and the process of urban regeneration.
Professor Carlos A Brebbia expressed the gratitude of the conference and his Institution for the support received from the University of La Marche.
Carlos then explained that the work of Prigogine is of direct relevance to the material presented at Sustainable City 2012. Ilya Prigogine was born in Moscow in 1917 and obtained his degree in Chemistry at the Free University of Brussels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures. The main theme of his scientific work was the role of time in the physical sciences and biology. The results of his work have had profound consequences for understanding biological and ecological systems.
Prigogine’s ideas established the basis for ecological systems research. The Prigogine Medal to honour his memory – Carlos said - is awarded annually to a leading scientist in the field of ecological systems. All recipients have been deeply influenced by the work of Prigogine.
Previous Prigogine Medal winners are:
- 2004 Sven Jorgensen, Denmark
- 2005 Enzo Tiezzi, Italy
- 2006 Bernard Patten, USA
- 2007 Robert Ulanowicz, USA
- 2009 Ioannis Antoniou, Greece
- 2010 Felix Müller, Germany
- 2011 Larissa Brizhik, Ukraine
The establishment of the Medal was in large part an initiative of the late Professor Enzo Tiezzi, an outstanding disciple of Prigogine.
Carlos asked Professor Ricardo Pulselli, of the University of Siena, Italy, to say a few words regarding Enzo Tiezzi, a pioneer of complex dynamic systems and the thermodynamics of living systems.
He received the 2005 Medal at the University of Cadiz during an academic ceremony presented by the Rector of that Institution. Professor Tiezzi studied at the University of Florence where he developed an interest in the then novel field of Magnetic Resonance.
While on a Fulbright scholarship at Washington University, he worked under Professor Sam Weissman of the Physics Department and Professor Barry Commoner of the Department of Biology.
The development of Enzo’s outstanding scientific career was matched by a strong involvement in environmental and social issues, reflecting his deep commitment to ecology and Prigogine’s ideas. Professor Tiezzi in addition to numerous papers, published more than 20 books dealing with scientific topics, as well as humanities and poetry. He was an outstanding photographer and artist. Enzo was a good friend of the Wessex Institute as well as a member of its Board of Directors.
His group on Ecology and Thermodynamics, discipline that he called Ecodynamics, continues to carry out Enzo’s research at the University of Siena.
Carlos thanked Ricardo for his remarks and briefly described the career of Gerald Pollack, the recipient of the 2012 Medal, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, USA.Gerald received his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and since then has carried out outstanding research in a wide variety of fields, ranging from biological motion and cell biology to the interaction of biological surfaces with aqueous solutions. He has published numerous papers in leading scientific journals and is author of several books, including one on the underlying principle of biological motion and another on cells and gels as the engines of life.
He has received many awards and is a member of prestigious national and international organisations. Gerald is founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and a Fellow of both the American Heart Association and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
Carlos then asked Professor Nadia Marchettini, of the University of Siena and widow of Enzo Tiezzi to present the medal.
Nadia referred to the saying ‘Scientists do not read Shakespeare and humanists have no sense for the beauty of mathematics’. That is how Prigogine introduced the dichotomy between the two cultures, scientific and humanist.
When Enzo Tiezzi met Carlos A Brebbia – Nadia said – to discuss the idea of launching a special award for scientist-humanistic in memory of his mentor Ilya Prigogine, Enzo clearly expressed the opinion to rejoin those two cultures.
The Prigogine medal was conceived to reward interdisciplinary research and overcome the problem of the fragmentation of knowledge imposed by artificial mesh boundaries’
In this regard it is pertinent to quote Herman Daly, father of Ecological Economics, who said,
‘Real problems do not observe academic boundaries. We certainly believe that thinking should be ‘disciplined’ in the sense of observing logic and facts, but not ‘disciplinary’ in the sense of limiting itself to traditional methodologies and tools that have become enshrined in the academic departments’
Nadia ended her remarks with a few words that Enzo would have to say on occasions and were found in a note amongst his many papers. They are of particular interest in the time of crisis we are currently living ie:
‘Democracy is always the fruit of co-evolution of the natural environment and human culture, and therefore varies from place to place.
‘Democracy can only exist if the natural and cultural diversity of a region is respected and considered, and with it the sacredness of places.
‘Democracy is real democracy if it allows science and art to express themselves without the constraints of utility, ideology, dogma, economic interest or aims. Archimedes used to say that he was not concerned with useful things, only with the free and beautiful.Nadia then presented the Prigogine Medal to Gerald Pollack who proceeded to deliver his special lecture on ‘The Secret Life of Water: E=H20’, an abstract of which is as follows:
‘School children learn that water has three phases: solid, liquid and vapor. But we have recently uncovered what appears to be a fourth phase. This phase occurs next to water-loving (hydrophilic) surfaces. It is surprisingly extensive, projecting out from the surface by up to millions of molecular layers.
‘Of particular significance is the observation that this fourth phase is charged; and, the water just beyond is oppositely charged, creating a battery that can produce current. We found that light recharges this battery. Thus, water can receive and process electromagnetic energy drawn from the environment — much like plants. The absorbed light energy can then be exploited for performing work, including electrical and mechanical work. Recent experiments confirm the reality of such energy conversion.
‘The energy-conversion framework implied above seems rich with implication. Not only does it provide an understanding of how water processes solar and other energies, but also it may provide a foundation for simpler understanding natural phenomena ranging from weather and green energy all the way to biological issues such as the origin of life, transport, and osmosis.
The lecture presented evidence for the presence of this novel phase of water, and considered the potentially broad implications of this phase for physics, chemistry and biology, as well as some practical applications for engineering.’
The conference programme comprised a substantial number of papers grouped under the following topics:
- Urban Strategies
- Sustainable Energy and the City
- Solar Urban Planning
- Eco-Town Planning
- Waterfront Developments
- Planning for Risk
- Transport Methods in Emergencies
- Planning, Development and Management
- Planning for Urban Conservation and Regeneration
- Industrial Wastes as Raw Materials
- Case Studies
- Quality of Life
- Landscape Planning and Design
- Environmental Management
- The Community and the City
- Cultural Heritage Issues
There were a series of invited presentations that helped to enhance the proceedings, ie:
Urban sustainability: resilient regions, sustainable sprawl and green infrastructure
D Bogunovich, Unitec Institute of New Zealand
Desire Lines: determining pathways through the city
A Furman, Ryerson University, Canada
Overcoming unsustainability: retrofitting American suburbs with high-density built environment
P J Armstrong, University of Illinois Urban Campaign, USA
Urban entropy vs sustainability: a new town planning perspective
R Fistola, University of Sannio, Italy
The Role of the informer in user behaviour
F Russo, University of Reggio Calabria, Italy
Reuse of red powder of steel plants as fine addition in ceramic bricks manufacture
N Quaranta, National Technological University, Argentina
Urban conservation in Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula: progress and challenges
A Kocabas, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Turkey
Cultural landscape planning: the Mexicali Valley, Mexico
R I Rojas-Caldelas, University Autonoma di Baja California, Mexico
Beyond sustainability: cradle-to-cradle business innovation and improvement zones in NW Europe
C A Booth, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Air quality and environmental sustainability: the situation of Ancona city and its district
G Latini, Politechnic University of La Marche, Italy
The edge of the [dis]order
R Barelkowski, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Conference Banquet and Concert
The Conference Banquet took place in a restaurant renown for the quality of its seafood. Portonovo is located in a peninsula within the Conero National Park, and it has been a fisherman’s place since ancient times. The delegates were offered a welcoming drink in a terrace located high in the cliffside from where the sunset over the Adriatic could be fully appreciated. The dinner consisted of a selection of fresh seafood and fish accompanied by the verdicchio wines for which the region is famous throughout the world. The banquet was also an occasion for honouring Professor Gerald Pollack upon receiving the Prigogine Medal.
The University of La Marche offered the participants a concert in the Aula Magna of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty. It was given by the ‘Sax Appeal Quartet’, a group that is renown throughout the world for their repertoire of popular pieces of international appeal such as those of George Gershwin, Leonard Berstein, Nino Rota, Astor Piazzola, some of them originating in classical films.
The group consisted of saxophone, violin, harp and flute and the players, trained in classical music, were all from Ancona.
The audience were most appreciative of their excellent performance leading to further requests, and resulting in a much longer show than scheduled.
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 155 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment ISSN: 1746-448X, Digital ISSN 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com