Sustainable urbanisation requirements of small and medium-sized urban settlements and their surroundings (Surround)

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Urbanisation is one of the most visible features of the age in which we live, and in Norway 81 per cent live in urban settlements. Urbanisation has consequences for environment and society, not only in the cities, but also in their semi-urban and rural surroundings. Surround aims to provide knowledge on how urbanisation affects environmental and cultural history values in and around small and medium sized urban areas. The project will also shed light on driving forces that influence these processes, and give better understanding of conditions for sustainable urbanisation.

For a long time urbanisation was characterized by cities expanding into their surroundings in a poorly planned manner, resulting in space demanding settlements. During the 1980s, urban compaction was introduced as a strategy to counteract undesirable consequences of urban sprawl. In Norway the principle of densification was introduced i.a. through the research project ‘Nature and Evironmentally Friendly Urban Development’ (NAMIT), which ran from 1988 to 1992. A number of sustainability indicators were used to examine the municipalities of Sogndal, Horten, Malvik and Trondheim. The basic idea of Surround is to use these data as a basis of comparison in order to analyse processes that has taken place for the last three decades.

Analyses of change in the ‘NAMIT municipalities’ will departure from case studies in the fields of landscape ecology, cultural heritage and governance theory (governance is public steering in cooperation with business and the civil society). The researchers will study biodiversity, landscape quality, access to recreational areas, and the historic urban landscape. Mapping of planning processes and attitudes towards these, will give insight into driving forces that may explain how environmental and cultural history values have been managed. Findings from Surround will be disseminated in scientific and popular channels, and give input to bachelor and master programmes.

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Start date:
End date:
Project lead:
Senior Researcher
Project staff:
Research Professor
Researcher and communication advisor