Searching for the Sustainable Urban Form: A Critical Approach to the Compact City Model

Article type :


The last decade, the term "compact city" is cited in a growing number of urban policy papers, concerning the city’s future. In those papers, it is assumed that policies towards density increase and urban regeneration will result in energy, economic and social benefits. However, the academic community of urban planners expresses strong doubts about these benefits, and about the applicability of the compact city model, when urban sprawl is the dominant trend. In this paper, the compact city model is evaluated, through four focus points: (a) energy and environmental benefits, (b) social acceptability, (c) possibilities of implementation, (d) social cohesion. For all these subjects, it is concluded that further research is needed, and especially for the first one. In the field of compact city model assessment, reliable research results are needed, as this model is already being implemented in European cities, with questionable impacts.

Download the article

Please wait...