Research and Landscape Design Projects
Biodiversity and landscape design in the city of Porto
Urban green structures are crucial landscape elements for the promotion and conservation of biodiversity in the ever growing urbanized areas. Landscape architects, architects, urban planners and managers should be able to develop integrated design approaches to promote green structures in the urban realm according to contemporary social needs and grounded on a deep understanding of urban ecosystems. Such approaches should create opportunities for humans, plants and animals, in shared public spaces with the least possible conflict. One way to meet such goals is through a well balanced design of the outdoor space, reflecting the development of a green matrix of multipurpose habitats and social facilities with significant aesthetic quality.
Therefore it is important to answer some questions such as: What is the relationship between the spatial character of the urban green structure and its biodiversity? How organization and design of the urban green structure influence the diversity of flora and fauna? Which spatial strategies and tools can be used by planners, designers and managers of the urban green structure to address the question of biodiversity within the city environment?
Projeto financiado pela Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia – FCT: PTDC/AUR-URB/104044/2008 e cofinanciado pelo COMPETE: FOMP-01-0124-FEDER008846
- Link research on spatial design and urban biodiversity
- Raise greater public awareness of biodiversity in urban areas
- Promote interdisciplinary research into urban biodiversity for a better understanding of the interactions between humans, urban biodiversity and global biodiversity
- Establish a connection mechanism between researchers, planners, policy makers and citizens to improve the integration of research findings into urban design
- Promote education in urban biodiversity and design
This project focuses on the city of Porto, the heart of a metropolitan area of nearly 2 million inhabitants. It is the second largest Portuguese city with a mild Atlantic climate, with several important natural habitats close to each other (river Douro and its mouth, seafront, rocky escarpments) and a variety man made habitats with different design character, sizes, locations, and connectivity (public green spaces, relic woodlands, beaches, abandoned farmlands, old gardens, derelict buildings, brownfields and ruderal sites). Its geographic, social and environmental context together with high diversity of situations in a relatively dense urban fabric makes Porto an ideal place for a detailed green structure research in a southern European scenario.
Urban greening survey will be carried in the city of Porto, Northwest Portugal. The administrative boundaries of the city enclose an area of more than 41 km2 and are surrounded by several suburban municipalities with large areas of intensive agricultural land. The study will be carried out in parks, gardens, highway intersections, river corridors, oceanic fronts, cliffs, etc.
Urban areas are traditionally considered as fully anthropogenic environments, concrete jungles without the natural green. Several plant and animal species thrive, however, even in the busy city centers not to mention parks, courtyards or urban forests. These areas support species specialized both in open and closed environments. All those involved in either design or maintenance of the urban green structure shall consider the questions of urban biodiversity and its protection. Research is needed to better understand: What kind of habitats can be found from the urban green areas? What is the relationship between the spatial character of the urban green structure and its biodiversity? How organization and design of the urban green structure influence the diversity of flora and fauna? Which spatial strategies and tools can be used by planners, designers and managers of the urban green structure to address the question of biodiversity within the city environment?
Three thematic research groups from different scientific background will be organized to survey the study area: landscape architects (landscape group), botanists and vegetation ecologists (botany group), and zoologists (fauna group). The whole urban area of Porto will be covered by the each thematic group, in accordance to the results from the previous classification phase on Porto green structure.
Each group will acquire specific data in accordance to their needs. The landscape group will assess questions as spatial character, explicit design composition, human use and aesthetic quality; the botanists and the zoologists will be more focused on habitats and species diversity.