Evolution of green space planning in shrinking cities: case studies of Buffalo and Porto

Authors: Olivia Lewis*, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: shrinking cities, green infrastructure, urban green space
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While studies of urban green space are often justified by global urbanization (e.g., Pauleit et al. 2019), not all cities are gaining population – some are shrinking. These ‘shrinking cities’ might seem to have a unique opportunity for green space planning due to an increased amount of available space. However, they face a complex set of challenges related to changing spatial dynamics, a lower number of users, higher vacancy and abandonment, risk of exacerbated inequalities, constrained budgets, and growth-oriented planning systems (see inter alia Herrmann et al. 2016). While various studies have highlighted the potential problems and opportunities for green space planning in shrinking cities, there is little understanding of how their green space planning has changed over time during the stress of shrinkage. This study investigates how green space planning has evolved in shrinking cities, using green infrastructure principles as a reference point for investigation, with inclusion of the recently emphasized principles of distributional and interactional equity. The study is primarily based on analysis of planning and policy documents in two case study cities, Buffalo (New York, USA) and Porto (Portugal), from 1970-present. Both experienced significant population decline and associated problems, but while Buffalo has a historic parks and parkway system designed by Olmsted, Porto underwent haphazard green space development in the 20th century (Madureira et al. 2011), rendering their green structure quite different. The international comparison enables consideration of how not only shrinkage, but also its context, has affected green space planning.

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