WIT Press

The Optimum Density For The Sustainable City: The Case Of Athens


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D. Milakis, N. Barbopoulos & Th. Vlastos


Over the last decade there has been a great deal of research on the definition of the sustainable city. There is also an ongoing debate on city shape and on the optimum distribution of activities. The dominant theory, often to be found in political documents, favours the compact city. Its main principles are the mix of land uses and the increase of density. It also promotes improvement of public transport and of environmentally friendly means of transport, such as cycling and walking. In this paper, we offer an estimate for a critical threshold of density for the case of Athens. This threshold reflects the density required in order for significant changes in travel behaviour to appear. It results from a statistical analysis of data concerning urban and transport characteristics. This threshold is much higher than those identified in other cities around the world. We then discuss the policy implications of such a threshold. Keywords: residential density, socio-economic characteristics, travel behaviour. 1 The discussion on optimum density Over the last two decades there has been a growing concern over implementing principles of sustainability in cities. The major question to be addressed is how to define the appropriate guidelines, needed to obtain to obtain urban structures that are energy efficient and do not pollute the environment excessively. There is a growing number of policy documents referring to urban planning. These documents set the following targets: the reduction of car use, the reduction of distance traveled by car, and


residential density, socio-economic characteristics, travel behaviour.