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ECOCITY - Urban Development towards Appropriate Structures for Sustainable Transport

5th FP Contract No EVK4-CT-2001-00056,
Coordinator: EU Vienna, A

The project is a part of the cluster of 10 research projects that are supported by the European Commission within the 5th Framework Programme. As the acronym of the cluster LUTR reveals (Land use and Transport Research), the main research interests of the projects are urban development and transport, with a focus on optimisation of planning strategies to environmental and ecological requirements.
The project Ecocity is aimed to put forward its own vision of sustainable city of the third millennium, which should also demonstrate its feasibility under the special conditions of the seven selected model areas in several European countries. It is intended that the model settlements should be best practice examples of sustainable 'cities of tomorrow' as optimal structures, in which optimal solutions can be implemented. As such structural solutions are depending on the conditions of the site, they have to be developed for concrete sites in the following seven participating cities and towns:

* Trnava (Slovakia)

* Tübingen-Derendingen (Germany)

* Bad Ischl (Austria)

* Tampere (Finland)

* Gyõr (Hungary)

* Umbertide (Italy)

* Barcelona-Trinitat Nova (Spain)

Objectives and Approach of the Project

Though the project follows holistic approach to sustainability, special emphasis is given to issues of sustainable transport. This reflects the facts that the urban structure directly predetermines the transport system and that the mobility of people and goods has a central impact on the quality of urban environment. Therefore the project clamours for compact, space-saving settlement structure interrelated with an environmentally compatible transport system. Its scientific orientation is determined by the objectives of the EU policies and its inspiration sources could be found also in Ecocity movement and New Urbanism. Similarly to their typical approach, the project Ecocity intends to realise its vision of sustainable city through planning of an ideal physical structure (within a spatially limited model area) that would be sustainable in each element.
The project Ecocity is based on the results of many research projects as well as the experience of realised "best practice" projects and aims at a new combination of proved solutions supplemented by developing new solutions to design sustainable settlement patterns.
The concepts for sustainable model settlements are being developed in a co-operation with the respective local communities (involved as project partners) to increase the chance of implementation. In relation to the community's citizens, the project adopts a bottom-up approach with citizens' inclusion in the decision-making process. It is one of the greater challenges to facilitate a fruitful dialogue between the theoretical, ambitious and often abstract starting points of the Ecocity concepts with the practical and economic local reality.

Organisation Structure

The project has engaged a consortium of 30 partners from 9 European countries. The consortium is composed of representatives of universities, consulting bureau and municipalities. The co-operation of universities and consultants will ensure that both innovative and practicable solutions are developed. The municipalities have the status of end-users of the project results. The general co-ordinator of the project is University of Economy in Vienna (WU Wien).

Main Tasks within the Project

The project Ecocity was launched in February 2002 and should run for 3 years within 3 main phases. In phase 1, Definition of a conceptual and analytical framework first an analysis of state of the art and trends was elaborated. Its focus was on reference projects in order to select solutions that are applicable in the project Ecocity and to identify obstacles for their implementation. The next step was to elaborate a framework for the concepts for sustainable model settlements to be developed in phase 2. The framework (Overall Concept) includes objectives and principles for sustainable settlement development, considering also interrelations between different sectors to find integrated solutions. Based on the overall methodology, in phase 2, different concepts for sustainable model settlements are developed at specific sites in the selected communities. In the final phase (phase 3), the local concepts have to be compared across sites. The quality of life and the environment achievable by the proposed solutions will be evaluated through criteria and indicators developed in phase 1. Results gained by the national teams during the conceptual phase and evaluation will be further generalised and summarised in form of recommendations that will be published in a handbook on sustainable settlement development.