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The paper explores the challenges of demographic changes and economic growth, with reference to post-war expansions, in-between urban and rural territories.
Examining EU definitions and past programmes, it analysis the concepts of periurban areas and urban fringe within two major EU funded project: Horizon 2020 “REPAiR” and URBACT III “Sub> urban. Reinventing the fringe”. These projects, going beyond past definitions, consider areas outside the compact city as an overall continuous built/un-built territory, an amorphous area between the high-density inner city and the low-density suburbs. These border areas of a city in transition, signed by urban abandonment and decay, have a strong potential for conversion and density; not in the sense of expansion related to land consumption, but working on a density of open-spaces, e.g. eco-services for new liveable habitats and sustainable way of living. The territorial regeneration process becomes progressive, adaptive and flexible, to be defined from both side of the border, through collaborative and cooperative processes, learning from the compact city.
The paper uses three samples from the EU funded project -the cities of Casoria (Italy), Antwerp (Belgium) and Oslo (Norway)- which worked on their fringe, based on principles of an alternative paradigm of growth, which starts from the conversion of physical heritage (built and un-built), through densification and diversification of uses, to re-interpret the meaning and identity of long neglected areas.
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