Portsmouth School of Architecture

Ecocities: The Role of Green and Blue Infrastructures

Ecocities: The Role of Green and Blue Infrastructures - Image supplied by Dr Fabiano Lemes
Image by Dr Fabiano Lemes


The project analysed the roles of networks of green and blue spaces in new flagship eco-city plans. In the context of new eco-city plans being aimed at defining a new city typology, create models of sustainable development that would contribute to the resolution of the global need for more urban spaces, increase well-being and decrease ecological footprint; the project aimed at investigating how green and blue infrastructures were used to achieve these goals.

The project focused only on proposals for the creation of new standalone cities, as opposed to the building of neighborhoods, districts or retrofit projects. To find the case studies, we undertook an analysis of the relevant literature, searching for the key words ‘eco-city’, ‘eco-town’, ‘eco development’, ‘sustainable development’. It was also part of the criteria that proposals had a serious attempt at planning networks of green and blue spaces, were contemporary projects and that there were sufficient available information. With regard to the networks of open spaces, we considered the designer’s description of their approach when possible, combined with our visual analysis of the proposals. During the data collection, it became apparent that many terms were used in the different design proposals to mean the same type of space. Based on the above and to allow for comparison and facilitate comprehension, a reduced set of terms for the typologies was defined in this study.

Key Details

The study found out that green and blue infrastructures were the main features of the planning of the case studies analysed, defining the future pattern of development, both at city and regional scales. The urban framework for these eco-cities, as well as their image, were highly defined by green and blue spaces, which undoubtedly supported many principles set out for eco-cities, such as: healthy living; reduced ecological footprint; promotion of walking and cycling; preservation of wetland and fauna; conservation and promotion of biodiversity; the need for compactness, access to fresh air and quality green spaces; and the production of food – as well as places for the generation of renewable energy, local biomass and for recycling. The study suggested that a systemic, holistic approach to eco-city design needs to have at its core a strategy for green and blue infrastructures, without which any attempt to tackle effectively the preoccupations of our ever increasing urban world will be incomplete.

The results of the project were presented at the UIA World Congress of Architecture in Tokyo and published as a book chapter in the book Cities for Smart Environmental and Energy Futures.

For more information

Please contact Dr Fabiano Lemes. You can also follow him on Twitter (@lemes_f) or consult our research pages.