top of page
8 (2)_edited_edited_edited.jpg

Urbanism and Territorial Resilience: Building Adaptive Cities for the Future

Urban planningand territorial resilience emerge as crucial issues in the contemporary context, in which cities face increasingly complex and urgent challenges. Rapid urbanization, climate change, resource scarcity and economic crises are just some of the forces shaping today's urban environment. In this scenario, resilience is presented as a fundamental concept, proposing not only the ability to resist and recover from adversities, but also the ability to adapt and transform. This article explores the intersection between urban planning and territorial resilience, examining how urban planning can be a powerful tool to build cities capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

Saskia Sassen, in 1984, already mentioned it in her work "The Global City", where it provided valuable perspectives about the intersection between globalization and urban dynamics, reminding us that resilient citiesmust consider their role in the global network of interconnected cities, global cities, by embracing territorial resilience, they must address both the specific challenges of their position in the global economy and local needs, managing urban growth, improving infrastructure, promoting equity and Citizen participationare crucial elements to strengthen territorial resiliencein this context.

Urban planning has evolved throughout history in response to various social, economic and technological factors. From ancient civilizations to contemporary megalopolises, the way we plan and design our cities reflects not only our material needs, but also our cultural aspirations and shared values. However, the accelerated urbanization of recent decades has led to the emergence of systemic problems that require deeper reflection. Today's cities face problems of congestion, lack of affordable housing, pollution, socioeconomic inequalities and vulnerabilities to extreme events.

Territorial resilience is presented as a comprehensive response to these challenges, encouraging the adoption of strategies that do not They only mitigate negative impacts, without also strengthening the adaptation and transformation capacity of urban communities.

For example Barcelona in Spain, under the direction of the architect Ildefons Cerdà in the 19th century, implemented the famous Cerdà Plan, which sought an orderly and equitable urban expansion. Although not conceived with modern resilience in mind, laid the foundations for sustainable development and connectivity in the city.

The Cerdà Plan, conceived between 1859 and 1860, was based on a reticular design of square blocks with cut corners, known as "ensanche blocks". This design allowed better ventilation, access to sunlight and efficient distribution of urban services. In addition, the plan incorporated wide avenues, such as the Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, to facilitate mobility and improve connectivity within the city. However, the link between the Cerdà Plan and territorial resilience is not simply historical; It is a relationship that transcends time and is manifested in the territory's capacity to adapt and recover in the face of contemporary challenges. Territorial resilience refers to the capacity of a territory to resist, absorb, adapt and recover from disturbances, whether natural or human.

Territorial resilience implies going beyond passive resistance to threats and crises. While resistance remains crucial, resilience seeks to create cities that not only survive the impacts of adverse climatic or social conditions, but thrive and evolve from them. This involves adopting a holistic approach that considers not only the physical infrastructure, but also the social, economic and environmental aspects of urbanization.

Urban planning based on territorial resilience must address social vulnerability, ensuring that all communities have access to essential services, economic opportunities and participation in decision making. Spatial equity becomes a fundamental pillar, ensuring that resilience does not only benefit certain privileged groups, but extends to all layers of society.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing modern cities. Extreme weather events, sea level rise, and changes in precipitation patterns threaten the stability of urban areas. Territorial resilience in the climate context implies the implementation of adaptation strategies, such as the construction of green infrastructure, the design of sustainable buildings and the planning of evacuation zones.

The climate-change resilient city not only defends itself against environmental threats, but also embraces the opportunity to transform into a more sustainable and ecologically conscious. The integration of smart technologies, renewable energy and sustainable urban design practices are fundamental to forging cities that not only resist, but thrive in an ever-changing climate. The "Cities Sponge" are an example of this; Yu Kongjian is the creator of this concept, a renowned Chinese architect and landscape designer, internationally recognized for his innovative approach to sustainable and resilient landscape design. These sponge cities are an urban design approach that addresses issues related to flooding and water management in urban environments, especially in the context of extreme weather events and climate change.

Qunli National Urban Wetland, designed by Turenscape Landscape Architecture - Qunli, China - Taken from: -national-urban-wetland-by-turenscape/

Sponge cities seek to absorb, filter and efficiently manage rainwater, thus reducing the risk of flooding and improving water quality in cities. Some of the key features of sponge cities include:

  1. Sponge Parks: Green areas and parks designed to absorb excess rainwater.

  2. Sustainable Drainage Systems: Implementation of drainage systems that allow rainwater to infiltrate the soil instead of being channeled directly into storm drains.

  3. Green Roofs and Green Walls: The incorporation of vegetation on the roofs and walls of buildings to help absorb water.

  4. Permeable Roads and Streets: Permeable surfaces that allow water to filter through them instead of accumulating on the surface.

  5. Restoration of Water Bodies: Rehabilitation of rivers and bodies of water to improve their capacity to absorb water and reduce the risk of flooding.

Territorial resilience implies proactive risk management and significant citizen participation. Urban planning must anticipate possible risk scenarios and develop mitigation and response strategies.

At the same time, citizen participation should not be a mere formality, but a genuine process of collaboration between the community and urban planners. Including local voices in decision-making ensures that proposed solutions are culturally sensitive and socially equitable.

For example in New Orleans, USA, after Hurricane Katrina , risk management strategies were implemented that included the improvement of levee systems and active community participation in reconstruction planning.

Urban planning and territorial resilience are intrinsically intertwined in the creation of adaptive and sustainable cities. Resilience-based urban planning not only addresses immediate challenges, but also prepares cities for an uncertain future. Equity, environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and citizen participation are essential elements in building cities that can resist and thrive in a constantly evolving world. Ultimately, resilient urbanism is not just a technical approach, but an ethical commitment to creating urban environments that improve the quality of life and promote prosperity for all people.

3 views0 comments


  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
bottom of page