Lifelines of a city
We humans have a nervous system, a blood circulation and a digestive system. The nervous
system distributes the necessary information to the places where they are needed. The circulatory system delivers energy and other important substances throughout the body. External supply can be made usable for the body via the digestive tract. Excess, as well as non-usable material is excreted again. Our own cycle is thus in constant exchange with other cycles. In a city, data networks and flows of people provide for data exchange. Power cables, water pipes and delivery traffic distribute energy and other goods throughout the urban area. And factories, distribution centers and power plants, for example, make materials and energy from other cycles usable. The reality offers many more facets and makes it almost impossible to grasp the whole system. But we know about small parts and can describe processes and procedures more and more precisely.
Green infrastructure provides biodiversity in the city and enables animals and people to move in or through the city. Furthermore, green infrastructure provides other services that are indispensable for a livable city. The oxygen production, filtering of dust, storage of CO2, ... (Hundertwasser, 2018). However, of utmost importance is the greenery of the city to limit the consequences of climate change in the city. With the evaporative capacity of trees, green facades and roof gardens, cities stay cooler. This can lower urban heat islands and prevent the death of many people. (Hundertwasser, 2018; Prof. Stephan Pauleit, 2021)
Blue infrastructure, on the other hand, provides water for the green infrastructure, but is mainly used for flood protection. Especially during such events, but also in everyday life, water is polluted by cities and human activities, which leads to environmental pollution and our own health. Most of the run-off water is fortunately treated by modern and efficient wastewater treatment plants, but even these are overloaded during floods. With the renaturation of many river and stream courses and with additional small measures, much can be done to protect against flooding. In heavily built-up cities, larger infiltration basins and green roofs can help. If the sun shines, most measures also provide recreational areas.(Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Disse, 2021)
The gray infrastructure, on the other hand, represents the lifelines of human activity. Without the road, electricity and data networks that we have today, we could not imagine going about our daily lives. This infrastructure is also responsible for many of the problems we have. Many people are already working to change this. For example, sensors and the ever-improving data network are being used to make cycling safer and traffic flows more efficient. Since we can't completely eliminate our roads, we need to use space in a more contemporary way. With autonomous cabs, car traffic could disappear completely and car manufacturers could still be well employed with suitable manufacturing contracts. The less and more intelligently used street space will then benefit life and promote the establishment of small businesses. (Prof. Klaus Bogenberger, 2021; “Superblocks,” 2022)
Figure 2: Alterlaa (Ditmars, 2017)
However, most cities lack a balanced and mutually supportive infrastructure of green, blue and gray. This has led to the fact that our environment suffers, nature is sick. The cause is the human being, but he himself suffers the most from the effects of the diseases he causes (Hundertwasser, 2018). Traffic jams and air pollution in cities. Floods that destroy buildings in cities and soil in farmlands. Droughts that leave food supplies on shaky ground. Heat waves that cause thousands of people to die. After all, summer heat is at its most intense in their self-built supposedly safe urban world (Prof. Stephan Pauleit, 2021). Only if the above-mentioned lifelines are in a sustainable condition will the basic security for human life in cities be guaranteed.
In order to re-function our cities, old model and use, for today's as money is meant to make life were once meant to make our which were built according to the needs, we have to rethink. Just better, our cities and buildings daily lives easier and to providegreater luxury. At the same time with smaller economic effort(Welzer, 2015). It's almost as if most people's view of traffic,smartphones, money and buildings has been turned upsidedown. More burden than benefit. In countries notdominated by the car industry, already working much better. the redesign of street spaces is Superblocks in Barcelona andthe Plazoleta El Inglès in Colombia prove the usefulnessand feasibility, even if the inhabitants are sometimesinitially against their own happiness. (Postaria, 2021; Prof.Benjamin Büttner, 2021).
Trial phases of the desired changesare helpful. A temporary test phase is proposed and if the changes that occur are still desired, the change becomes permanent. With additional information and involvement of the local population, this helps to implement projects and transform our cities. The example "STRØGET" in Sweden shows such a case. Here, after a 2 year test phase, a permanent pedestrian zone was established. (Prof. Benjamin Büttner, 2021) Urban planners and architects can provide the right impulses here. Good accessibility, for example, can be achieved mathematically and very scientifically.
Not every resident can deal with research in this field. However, professional planners have access and the necessary background knowledge to defuse central mobility hubs and to create broadly diversified mobility offers. In order to reduce traffic and especially the use of private vehicles, every city should develop a balanced relationship between density and land use (Prof. Gebhard Wulfhorst, 2021). In the end, this leads us back to the transformation of the inner cities as in Barcelona. Here we achieve exactly the desired effects. Residential areas such as Alterlaa, see Figure 2, also combine many of the aspects mentioned above.
Figure 3:Reverse Traffic Pyramid (Jorge Gil, 2017)
We can implement what has been described so far in a timely manner, but we should not neglect to look into the more distant future. Sustainability means creating cycles that can be repeated in the long term and support future generations. Cycles that optimize, improve and adapt themselves. However, in order to add circularity to our complex economy, we need to start now. In a few decades, every computer chip, every household appliance and every industrial machine must be repairable or replaceable in an almost infinite cycle. (Prof. Magnus Fröhling, 2021). Only with the help of the already built materials and renewable energy. The only "waste" that a city should then give up is humus and biomass, which nature and the agriculture around it need. Of course, the whole thing is much more complex and confusing, but with a simple vision we can imagine it better and find a common consensus.
Ditmars, H. (2017, July 6). Vienna and Vancouver square off on what makes a city ‘liveable’.
Wallpaper Retrieved from https://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/the-vienna-model-housingfor-the-21st-century-exhibition-museum-of-vancouver
Hundertwasser, F. (2018). Architektur. Für ein natur- und menschengerechteres Bauen. Köln:
Liam Young (2021, December 3). Retrieved from https://liamyoung.org/projects/planet-city
Postaria, R. (2021, May 31). Superblock (Superilla) Barcelona—a city redefined. Citiesforum.
Retrieved from https://www.citiesforum.org/news/superblock-superilla-barcelona-a-city-redefined/
TUM - Lessons:
Prof. Benjamin Büttner (2021, December 16). City Liveability by Redesign.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Disse (2021, December 16). Integrated Flood Risk Management: Integrated Water Resources Management.
Prof. Gebhard Wulfhorst (2021, December 16). Accessibility: A dialogue for more sustainable
Prof. Klaus Bogenberger (2021, December 16). Bicycle Traffic and future concepts of infrastructure.
Prof. Magnus Fröhling (2021, December 16). Circular Economy in Cities.
Prof. Stephan Pauleit (2021, December 16). Urban green Infrastructure - the city as an ecosystem. Retrieved from https://www.moodle.tum.de/course/view.php?id=70479
Superblocks: das Stadtentwicklungsprojekt Barcelonas (2022, January 11). Retrieved from
Welzer, H. (2015). Selbst denken: Eine Anleitung zum Widerstand (1. Aufl.). Fischer: Vol.
19573. Frankfurt am Main: FISCHER Taschenbuch. (“Liam Young,” 2021)(“Liam Young,”
Figure 1: Creative Commons CC0 (2017, July 27). City atmosphere: road-traffic-night-highwaycity-atmosphere-cityscape-streets-lights-interchange-screenshot-bird's-eye-view-aerial-photography-atmosphere-of-earth-computer-wallpaper-915088.jpg
Figure 2: Ditmars, H. (2017, July 6). Vienna and Vancouver square off on what makes a city
‘liveable’. Wallpaper Retrieved from https://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/the-vienna-model-housing-for-the-21st-century-exhibition-museum-of-vancouver
Figure 3: Jorge Gil (2017). Urban Modality - Integrated approaches for sustainable urban mobility. Unpublished. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.35682.79042