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Social sustainability in compact neighbourhoods

EU-funded researchers examined how compact urban form can promote social sustainability of intermediate neighbourhood areas in cities facing socio-cultural challenges. The results will help enhance policy related to design of neighbourhood spaces.
Social sustainability in compact neighbourhoods
EU-funded researchers examined how compact urban form can promote social sustainability of intermediate neighbourhood areas in cities facing socio-cultural challenges. The results will help enhance both policy related to and design of neighbourhood spaces.

The project COMPACTABILITY (Contribution of compact neighbourhoods to social sustainability) investigated social sustainability of compact neighbourhoods in four case study neighbourhoods in Germany and the United Kingdom. The main research questions centred on: key qualities of the compact neighbourhood and social sustainability, measurement of the indicators, and their interconnectivity.

Researchers collected data on two cities in Berlin (Klausenerplatz and Samariterkiez) and two in London (Kilburn and Bethnal Green). The three main topics were related to urban form, social activity and social sustainability.

Urban form analysis granted in-depth knowledge about the basic qualities of neighbourhood space. Social activity mapping offered insights into spatial, gender and age pattern of social activities within neighbourhood public spaces. For the third topic, various analyses revealed the inhabitants’ perceptions and ratings regarding different qualities of social sustainability.

All four cases have considerable differences relating to urban form. For example, the German cases have higher population densities and have more mixed land use than the British cases.

Moving was in all cases the most dominant activity by far. No significant gender difference was found regarding total number of activities in the neighbourhood space, but COMPACTABILITY did find significant age differences: elderly people and teenagers use neighbourhood space the least when compared to adults.

Basic urban facilities are very accessible in all case study neighbourhoods. Walking and cycling was by far the most frequently used means for errands, with safety and security and then quality of home placing second and third, respectively.

Indicators and related measures were scored from 0-200, giving a ‘social sustainability value’ for each neighbourhood. Boasting a social sustainability value of 128.40, Klausenerplatz was found to be the most socially sustainable neighbourhood, followed by Kilburn (122.02), Samariterkiez (121.53) and Bethnal Green (119.84).

COMPACTABILITY outcomes shed light on different aspects of neighbourhood living. The research efforts have led to practical recommendations for promoting social sustainability at neighbourhood level.

Related information

Keywords

Urban form, social activity, social sustainability, compact neighbourhoods, COMPACTABILITY
Record Number: 198877 / Last updated on: 2017-06-16
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