Towards resilient cities. Comparing approaches/strategies

  • Angela Colucci Politecnico di Milano
Keywords: urban design, resilience, planning


The term “resilience” is used in many disciplines with different meanings. We will adopt the ecological concept of resilience, which epitomises the capacity of a system to adapt itself in response to the action of a force, achieving a state of equilibrium different from the original (White, 2011).

Since the end of the last century, with a significant increase over the last few years, resilience has featured as key concept in many technical, political papers and documents, and appears in many researches. Of all this recent and varied range of literature, our focus is on those texts that combine resilience with strategies, processes and models for resilient cities, communities and regions.

Starting from the resilience strategies developed as response for risks mitigation, the paper thus explores other approaches and experiences on cities resilience that have been conducted: the aim is to compare and identify innovation in the planning process towards risks mitigation.

In this paper we present a summary of the initial survey stage of our research, with three main aims:

  • understanding the approaches to resilience developed so far and identifying which aspects these approaches share (or not);
  • understanding which strategies are being proposed for resilient regions, cities or social-ecological systems;
  • understanding whether proposed resilience strategies involve innovations in urban and regional development disciplines.

The aim is to understand whether the proposed concept of resilience, or rather strategies, constitute progress and contribute to innovation in the areas of urban planning and design in relation to risk mitigation.

Three main families of literature have been identified from the recent literature promoting resilience as a key strategy. The first aim of the research is to understand which particular concept and which aspects of resilience are used, which resilience strategies are proposed, how the term ‘city’ is defined and interpreted and, consequently, which are the key concepts related to strategies for resilient cities.

The families are:

a) Resilience and sustainability: resilience as a way to gain sustainable development of social-ecological systems.

b) Resilience and adaptation: resilience as the key concept to the adaptation strategies for climate change, natural resources use reduction and quality of local communities improvement,

c) Resilience and territorial risks: resilience as a key concept for innovation of territorial risk mitigation/management strategies.

The first results presented will underline:

  • The shared resilience strategies and the common concepts taken form the resilience approach and used for the urban systems strategies management/visions;
  • The methodological and planning instruments used for the integration of resilience inside the planning process;
  • The innovation aspects developed by the different authors and experiences that could enrich risk mitigation polices.


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Author Biography

Angela Colucci, Politecnico di Milano

Adjunct professor of Fondamenti di Urbanistica and of Urban Design Studio Module (International Master of Science in Building Engineering - School of Building Engineering and Architecture) at the Politecnico di Milano.

Since 2008, Member of the Resilience and risk mitigation strategies, Thematic Group of Association of European Schools of Planning (research domain operative coordinator).

Member of the board of  CoOPeRaTe Ltd.- Environmental and regional development research


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How to Cite
ColucciA. (2012). Towards resilient cities. Comparing approaches/strategies. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 5(2), 101-116.