Multi-Layered Design Strategies to Adopt Smart Districts as Urban Regeneration Enablers

Multi-Layered Design Strategies to Adopt Smart Districts as Urban Regeneration Enablers

J. Gaspari S.O.M. Boulanger E. Antonini 

Department of Architecture, University of Bologna, Italy

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Smart City emerged as a reference concept to shape the city of the future, mainly by strengthening the connections between grids, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools, governance and people. ‘Smart’ refers to the potential benefit that is derived by adopting ICT to face the increasing complexity of city growth, which involves multiple urban scales, a number of different players and a variety of regulatory frameworks, as shown by several experiences worldwide in the past few decades. Compared to the potential that is expected to be fuelled by hyper-connected devices in delivering an efficient and optimized configuration of the urban eco-system, the architecture of the city seems to have been relegated to the background. Facilitating an integrated management of the urban dynamics on both a large and a small scale is a key challenge. This means that the cross-related effects of decisions and behaviours must be identified, mapped and analysed considering their relations, reciprocal influences and conflicts. Although an effective ICT infrastructure should facilitate this purpose, the number of variables to consider is enormous, due to both top-down and bottom-up strains, which can act simultaneously on a large palette of fields, with multiple and combined issues as well. In order to design a model on which a tool for management can be built, a simplified scale of analysis is needed: the ‘district’ seems to represent an acceptable intermediate portion of the whole city where local and global phenomena can be observed from a perspective of their interferences and potential synergies. It often also corresponds to an administrative entity as well as to a structured place recognized by citizens and inhabitants. This article reports on a study conducted in the city of Bologna by a team of researchers of the University of Bologna – Department of Architecture. The study aimed at supporting the municipality in defining effective strategies to implement the Smart City Vision by a set of coordinated actions of regeneration at district level. The research aimed at coupling holistic design principles and the typical ICT platform architecture into an inter-operable tool that could enable the management of the key features of a district in separate layers, supplemented by different data sets. A significant part of the research has been devoted to identifying the variables involved and defining the methodology to process them, according to the most up-to-date shared definitions and indicators.


built environment, energy efficiency, multi-layer design, smart city, smart district, urban regeneration


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