Questioning urbanisation models in the face of Covid-19

The crisis as a window of opportunity for inner areas

  • Giancarlo Cotella Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST), Politecnico di Torino
  • Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST), Politecnico di Torino
Keywords: Urbanization, Rural development, National Strategy for Inner Areas, EU Cohesion Policy, COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic raises questions on the ever-growing urban concentration that characterizes our society and various experts are pointing out the need to rethink our cities. At the same time, a number of voices advocate for a rediscovery of the rural. However naive they may sound, these claims have the merit to call for a thorough reflection on the challenges and potentials that alternative modes of urbanisation could bring along. In order to provide a contribution in this direction, the article introduces the challenges that the present sanitary emergency raises for contemporary urban environments, to then reflect on the reasons behind the progressive abandonment of remote rural areas, and especially on the increasingly scarce accessibility to services they offer to their inhabitants. The authors argue that policies dedicated to counteract these trends are needed, in order to enhance the overall resilience of our societies. In this concern, the National Strategy for Inner Areas, promoted by the Italian Government to trigger place-based territorial development in the remote areas of the country, is a promising way forward, and the present crisis constitutes a window of opportunity to further strengthen and refine its approach in the view of the coming EU programming period.


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Author Biographies

Giancarlo Cotella, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST), Politecnico di Torino

Associate Professor of spatial planning at Politecnico di Torino. His research focuses on the comparison of territorial governance and spatial planning systems in Europe and beyond and on the mutual influence between EU territorial governance and national territorial governance and spatial planning. More in particular, he explores the evolution and impact of the EU cohesion policy and related programmes and initiatives. Since 2005, he participated in several international research projects on the matter, among which FP7 Milesecure-2050, ESPON COMPASS, ESPON ReSSI, ESPON URRUC, ESPON SUPER, ESPON TANGO, ESPON SMART-IST, ESPON FOCI, ESPON 2.3.1 and ESPON 2.3.2. He coordinates the AESOP Thematic Group on Transnational spaces, policy diffusion, planning cultures.

Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST), Politecnico di Torino

Postdoctoral research fellow in Spatial Planning at the Politecnico di Torino, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST). Her research focuses on mobility, land use-transport interaction and accessibility, with various approaches, at different scales, in urban and rural contexts. She also dealt with resilience, governance and local development in rural and mountain areas. On these topics, she authored several publications, has had professional experiences and took part in national and international research projects, including COST Action TU1002 Accessibility Instruments for Planning Practice, INTERREG ALCOTRA ARTACLIM Adaptation and resilience to climate change in mountain areas, ESPON URRUC Urban-Rural Connectivity in Non-Metropolitan Regions.


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How to Cite
CotellaG., & Vitale BrovaroneE. (2020). Questioning urbanisation models in the face of Covid-19. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 105-118.
Special Issue - Covid-19 vs City-20