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View the document Planning and creating healthy and sustainable cities: The challenge for the 21st century

The wellbeing of cities and citizens in Europe

Dr Voula Mega

Research Manager

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EFILWC)

Voula Mega is a surveying engineer (National Technical University of Athens), DEA in Geography (French ENSG), DEA in Planning (French Institute of Urban Planning) and PhD in Urban and Regional Planning (French Institute of Planning). Post PhD Research includes research in Regional Planning at Oxford Brooks University and training in Environmental Economics and Policy Analysis at Harvard University. She has worked as adviser to the Greek Minister for Transport and Communications in Athens and for the EC PETRA Programme. She is currently Research Manager at the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, which is an autonomous body of the European Union, with its seat in Dublin.

 

The European urban environment agenda: highlights

Europe is first and foremost urban. Aristoteles called the city "built politics". He wanted it to be bright and safe, while Vitruvius wanted the city to be solid, beautiful and useful. City planning objectives in Europe seem to stay much the same, since these principles still appear to be guiding urban values, though there is no single model or single reference. Each city is individual and unique and its future is impacted by the myriad of decisions taken by people and enterprises within it. They are all endowed by a unique culture. According to the Commission's Green Paper on the Urban Environment and the First Report on Sustainable Cities, as we move towards the 21st century cities will continue to be the main centres of economic activity, innovation and culture (CEC 1990, 1994). Cities emerge on the European scene stronger, they compete more, but they also collaborate more (Barrozzi & Tagliaventi 1992a; Eurocities 1989). They all want to win the battle of sustainable development and to become more attractive to people and capital (Burtenshaw et al. 1991). The optimists speak about a quiet revolution in cities while the pessimists speak about urban jungles; neither deny their important role in the future.

According to J. Attali (Attali 1994), the city is the only living organism which has the capacity of renewal. Former President Delors characterized the deterioration of the urban environment as the second most serious European problem, second only to drug addiction (Delors 1994). Dogan and Kasarda have described the development of urban pathology or "ataxia" where an urban place outgrows the boundaries of its niche (Dogan 1988). Urban stress has been identified by the recent report: "Europe's environment: The DobrŒs assessment" (EC 1994) as one of the twelve long-term pan-European problems which threaten health and the quality of life. Expressions like the "Martyr City", summing up urban distress, are significant.

Themes that constantly emerge in the European urban environment agenda and around which most European and international conferences in the 1990's are structured, include: the improvement of the overall urban environment (coming from an increasing environmental awareness); the strengthening of the entrepreneurial tissue of the cities; the creation of employment through healthy and environmentally sound economic activities; the role of telematics in shaping the future of the cities; the efforts in improving public transport and the emphasis put progressively on accessibility rather than mobility; the need to create liveable home environments and neighbourhoods especially for the anonymous peripheries of cities and last but not least the need to integrate all urban policies for these goals and to involve the most concerned citizens in this process. All these objectives are linked to the urgency to recreate a dynamic harmony between the hardware and the software of the cities, to reconcile the body (forms, colours, odours, sounds) and the soul (culture, history, energy, magnetism).

City care seems one of the axes to overcome European crises. The European Commission's White Paper on Growth and Employment recognized Europe's failure to match its wealth creation from 1970 to 1992 (73%) with employment creation (7%) for the same period and it highlighted the need to re-examine our social costs, to transfer tax burdens from human to natural resources through ECO-taxes and the inadequacy of the GNP as a measure of socioeconomic progress. According to the President of the Commission, it is time to adopt a new measure of progress, taking into account the idea of natural capital, also to balance the two factors of production, work and natural capital and to reorient R&D, in order that future productivity gains be achieved in the utilization of natural resources. A new form of solidarity between North and South, East and West has to be established in Europe. Reorganizing cities, prisoners of old models of city-planning, is being suggested as an extremely important challenge to meet.

The concept of sustainable development has achieved remarkable popularity from 1987 onwards. Environmental planning has been defined as the new type of planning, aiming at the achievement of sustainable development. It must be conceived as an integrated process operating within a strategic frame-work and resulting in a socially sustainable outcome. Sustainable environmental processes are trans-media. trans-sectoral and trans-boundary.

The question of the sustainable and resourceful city has been a challenging one after the universal debate on sustainable development. The concept of the sustainable city might be a contradiction in terms, as many scientists suggest that the only sustainable pattern for Earth is the equal distribution of its population on its surface (OECD 1993, UNECE 1992). Beyond these remarks there is a wide recognition that the sustainable city is the city with an improved, non-negotiable environment, social cohesion and economic efficiency (Mega 1992a, 1992b). The EU Commissioner for the Environment highlighted recently that sustainability is a challenge for social change (CEC 1993b). Enterprise plays an extremely important role for strengthening all dimensions of urban sustainability. The functioning of the city itself is often compared to the functioning of an enterprise, which has to be more environment friendly, participatory, efficient. It could not possibly be too arbitrary to compare the city with a semi-public enterprise, aiming at public usefulness, economic efficiency and optimal environmental performance.

When we speak about cities we speak first of all about humanity and public spaces. Public spaces, the sanctuaries of the classic Agora, are at the heart of many urban concerns. What Rem Koolhas describes as fortresses of freedom and what Oriol Bohigas defines as spaces for action in his theory of metastatic planning (La Ville 1994), have been defined as islands of humanity in the archipelago of the city. Metastatic planning is defined as the planning able to create a positive contribution through interventions to the public spaces, able to provoke an overall reconversion of the urban.

Public health and quality of the urban environment are closely interlinked and there is no single fact or policy concerning the urban environment that does not have a direct or indirect impact on public health. Often it is alarming findings about public health that generate policies for the improvement of the urban environment. The "Europe's Environment" report emphasises the fact that in 60 European cities short-term peak levels of ozone during summer photochemical smog episodes are exceeding WHO guidelines, while 65% of Europe's population is supplied from ground water the quality of which is seriously threatened. One could expect urban projects to come out of these findings, or others about the concentration of 25% of the world's CO2 and 16% of the world's methane man-made emissions in Europe.

Many words borrowed from medicine - such as metastatic or homeopathic planning - have been applied to cities and the idea of prevention applies in city matters as much as in health. Preventing urban diseases is a hard job. The urban space is a unity of time, in relation to a territory. Is this unity really threatened by eclipses and negative externalities? There are differing view-points on the degree the form of a city defines the life of the collective whole and on the degree of the overall changes brought from many of the innovative projects included in our overview.

Time management within cities also seems to be entering a new era. The achievement of a more diversified working time is a must and teleworking offers an important means towards an "ecology of time" in cities. Despite all the theories of the 1970s about the "vanishing city" due to the development of new technologies, it is those very technologies which now seem to be a source of richness and potentialities for the cities. Teleworking can lead to a dissociation between concentration in time and concentration in space. 5 Satellite offices for teleworkers seem a happy medium between working at home and working for an enterprise. But of course, teleactivities are just instruments, conducive either to integration or exclusion, depending on the overall policy articulation. Scenarios are always to be formulated about their impact on urban life and the flexicity (EC 1993 b,c).

Given the highlights of the European agenda this paper places in perspective some innovative projects we identified in Europe, conducive to (and necessary for) urban sustainability and improving the wellbeing of cities. Most of them come from a European overview of urban innovations undertaken recently by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (European Foundation (EF) 1993a). The overview focused on projects carrying a collective sense, a significance for a city, projects resisting time and favouring local democracy and participation at the conception, decision and executive phase, projects introducing new ecological materials, techniques, methods and conditions and last but not least, projects that produce culture and are cultural products (EF 1994a).

Many urban policies have failed, but failure is the birth of a new world. The projects are witnesses of the strategic visions that cities try to develop, in order to meet the increasing social, economic and environmental challenges and of the synergy with enterprises and citizens. The projects included in the over-view may differ in many respects, but they tend collectively to attempt to tackle the range of urban problems evident throughout Europe: environmental degradation, congestion, social exclusion and marginalization. There are hardly any innovative projects that are neither the products of partnerships across agencies and organizations nor of strategic holistic approaches. The vast majority of projects we introduced call for decentralization, empowerment and devolution. Many projects show the need to embrace a wide range of partners in the effective implementation of projects and the crucial role of local, empowered, communities. The longer term view and the investment in the emerging creative conflicts is a lesson emerging from many of those projects. Innovations may be the first step towards a new urban era.

 

The European urban Euroscape: state, trends and pressures

Even if each city is unique, they all crystallize a certain number of present-day worries and share a great number of common expectations. Recent documents and works of the European Communities (CEC 1991a, 1991b, 1992a, 1992b, 1993a) identify the following trends for European cities:

• There is a more balanced European urban system, in terms of growth; also an increasing potential for medium-sized and smaller cities (Vernon 1993, EF 1994b).

• There is increased competition and an alternative to this is the strengthening of complementarities (Guigou E. 1994) and the establishment of cooperation networks.

• Cities will be affected by the development of new physical linkages, mainly the high-speed rail network.

• A worrying urban trend is an increasing social exclusion and segregation of certain segments of the population and migration pressures might exacerbate these problems (EF 1992b).

• Cities have to meet important challenges concerning their environment in order to become sustainable (CEC 1993b).

• Many cities try to develop a strategic vision to meet the increasing social, economic and environmental challenges and the synergy amongst public and private sectors has been central in this process (OECD, 1994).

Behind these general trends, growth and decline seem to coexist more and more in European cities and there is a large literature on this (Alberti and others 1994, Burtenshaw 1991, Delft Institute of Technology 1992, Elkin and McLaren 1991, EF 1992c). Urbanization has facilitated economic growth through productivity gains in the use of labour and capital. The usual historical process of national growth is a range of positive growth rates for major metropolitan areas. There are now some declining metropolitan regions in older industrial and peripheral regions of the EU. Within metropolitan areas it is common-place for social and economic change to be associated with quite different trajectories for different neighbourhoods. Clearly localized growth accentuates the congestion, stress, noise and traffic externalities, while placing new demands on nature as areas expand. Decline, on the other hand, is associated with a drop in land values and emergence of derelict space. More negative attributes such as vandalism and crime in the declining neighbourhoods arise because the poorest households live in the worst urban conditions. Over the last decade the international economic situation has meant that whilst average national income grew, real wages or benefit levels of the poorest quarter have stagnated. Disrupted job careers have been paralleled by breakdowns in family cycles, poor education and access to information and training. The spatial effects of social polarization are in some cities so marked that they have given birth to the description of divided or dual cities. Social justice becomes of major importance for cities willing to preserve their integrity, to absorb social shockwaves and to assure their future attraction for people and capital (EF 1992b).

In a general way, there is an agreement that the decentralization of population and employment from cores to suburbs since 1950 and the de-industrialization since the 1970s, reinforced patterns of suburban growth and core decline with inner city decay. However, this view is too simplistic as reality provides much more diversified patterns and many inner city neighbourhoods attract residents because of their symbolic and cultural value, while expansion of service industries helped retain vitality in central areas. Another important consideration is that since the 1980s, unemployment has particularly impacted on social sector residents and declining residential areas may now lie in the central city, at the periphery of core cities or in past 1960s settlements well into the suburban fringe. The core decline-suburban growth mode is of questionable relevance in much of southern Europe, as core areas and suburbs continued to increase into the 1980s. In the suburban areas of towns in Greece, Portugal, southern Italy and in analogous fashion to run-down social housing in northern Europe, there are large areas of illegal settlements which house the poor and disadvantaged, with inadequate supportive infrastructure. Legal, illegal; market, non-market; core and suburban, the mosaic of European urban neighbourhoods presents a variety of growth/decline scenarios with different environmental consequences and land use possibilities (EF 1992c, 1994b).

An increasing globalization together with increasing localism and regionalism may be two (perhaps paradoxically) interlinked trends in the European future. Nowadays society is based on networks (networks of everything) and local actors constitute the diversified poles of the global networks. Technology, information, markets are global but people are local. Information technology provides the infrastructure for the integration of the global system. The space of flows (global) is in interaction with the space of places (local) and the cities gain an increasingly dual (global-local) function. Social movements can always be a source of social change, critical actors in collective consumption and in building up awareness and consciousness but they may disappear or be transformed into urban tribes if unable to connect with the political system. There may be an increasingly institutional diversity and parallel political institutional networks, not necessarily in an hierarchical system.

 

European cities commit and invest in sustainability

The conference on European Sustainable Cities and Towns (Aalborg, 24-27 May 1994) has marked an important step towards the achievement of urban sustainability. The Urban Environment Expert Group of the European Commission presented there the first Policy Report for the application of the concept of sustainability in urban areas (EC 1994a) together with a Good Practice Guide. The main objective of the conference was the discussion and final issue of the "Charter of European Cities and Towns: Towards Sustainability". Eighty municipal signatories and two hundred individual signatories were counted at the end of the conference and before the issue of the final text. The end of the conference was the starting point for the European campaign for sustainable cities and towns.

The Charter states the responsibility of European cities and towns for many environmental problems mankind is facing. Patterns of division of labour and functions, land-use, transport, industry, consumption, leisure and hence values and lifestyles are responsible for reduction of sustainability. Sustainable human life cannot be achieved without sustainable local communities and local governments and citizens rising to the great challenge of sustainability. Sustainability is described as a creative, local, balance-seeking process extending into all areas of local decision-making. Each city is unique and has to find its individual way towards sustainability. Integrating the principles of the Charter in their policies reinforces their strength and forms a common basis for progress.

According to the Charter, natural capital has become a limiting factor for economic development in cities and urban economies should give priority to investments in conserving the remaining capital and encouraging its growth by reducing the levels of current exploitation, relieving pressure on natural capital stocks and increasing the end-efficiency of the consumption goals. Social equity is finally agreed as being a precondition for the achievement of sustainability, as inequitable distribution of wealth both causes unsustainable behaviour and makes it harder to change.

Cities and towns that are signatories of the treaty recognize that they cannot export problems into the larger environment or the future and seek equitable regional interdependencies. Priority is also given to ecologically sound means of transport and decrease of enforced mobility. Emphasis is placed on the stabilization and decrease of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the prevention of ecosystem toxification. The local authorities that are signatories of the Charter feel strong and ready to reorganize cities and towns for sustainability and ask for sufficient powers and a solid financial base. When developing local Agenda 21 plans, cities commit themselves to work together with citizens.

The Charter embraces an ecosystem approach to urban management and advocates, for the development of urban systems, sustainability indicators on which to base policy-making and controlling efforts, in particular environmental monitoring, auditing, impact assessment, accounting, balancing and reporting systems. However, the Charter is based on the implicit perception that the value of the environment is infinite and no critical levels of sustainability are identified. In various chapters we have, however, the impression that some limits exist, i.e. the reduction of the unnecessary use of the private car implies the definition of accepted levels of necessity (EC 1992, Municipality of Amsterdam 1994).

The Charter, as any declaration of principles, doesn't include time scales for the achievements of the goals or simply for the design of new tools and instruments. Even if policy directions are given for the achievement of every goal, in general terms (i.e. reduction), there are no mentions of critical thresh-olds and concrete benchmark mentions against which to judge policy achievements. The uniqueness of each city contributes in giving the Charter a very general character, expressing a minimum and first agreement of principles.

The general character of the Charter extends to the lack of hierarchy between policy goals. One can easily assume that all policy fields are of equal importance and that an urban project contributes to urban sustainability when following one of the policy directions of the Charter and not having negative effects on the other policy themes. But the principles are of little help for a decision maker who has to choose between two urban projects in different policy fields of the Charter. One can assume that as cities committed themselves to prepare local Agenda 21 plans by 1996, they will deal with these issues and they will define targets and priorities in consultation with their citizens.

Urban sustainability connotes a stream of at least non-declining outputs and seems inextricably linked to a non-declining urban capital (natural, physical and human). Urban metabolism can be conceived as the economic or production process which leads from flows of inputs (materials, products, energy, labour) to flows of outputs (products, services). A steady flow of outputs requires steady flows of inputs and maintenance of the urban metabolism. The outputs constitute primarily the consumption basket for citizens, while a part of them are used for the maintenance of the production process (Hartwick 1994). Declining levels of per capital consumption seem quixotic; the Charter high-lights the importance of maintenance of consumption levels through changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns.

The European Commission's First Report on Sustainable Cities (EC 1994a) recognizes the need for sustainability indicators as tools for quantifying sustainability performance. If sustainability is a coherent policy goal, it must be possible to measure whether we are moving towards it. But indicators unavoidably simplify and select from complex realities and a deficient or unbalanced set of sustainability indicators may impoverish our understanding of what urban sustainable development is. The tensions between ease of measurement and policy significance is a second related problem. The indicators which are easiest to measure will not necessarily capture whatever is most important and of course, there is always the problem of defining what is the most important.

The World Bank defines indicators as performance measures that aggregate information into a useable form, highlighting, however, the unresolved issues of fluctuation, intertemporal variations and uncertainty. All organizations involved in indicators construction seem to agree that indicators provide a useful tool for policy making (prospective) and for assessing policy implementation (retrospective indictors), but they stress their limitations (Tunstall 1992).

Indicators can measure the success of one course of action and even stimulate action, but they do not indicate what kind of action. Decision-makers dispose of a large choice of instruments for urban intervention and good practice guides can inspire them. Moreover they should be able to define actions which lead with the greatest efficiency to a targeted goal. A thematic indicator can measure the result of an action by comparison to the ultimate aim. Targets for thematic indicators may be defined at the city level, according to the priorities of each city. The performance of a city at the national or European level can therefore be judged according to both its targets and the progress achieved towards this direction.

Urban indicators may generate action through the setting of targets and the indication of the distance between real performance and wished one. At their simplest form they can indicate commitment to a direction of change, especially in fields where targets cannot be defined with precision and the ultimately desirable level is difficult to be reflected. For purely environmental indicators, determined by the physical realities of global carrying capacity limits and human impact on them, there is still considerable uncertainty about these limits, even if at the local scale it is often possible to identity cases where a carrying limit is being broken and to estimate the change in human activity needed to bring pressure back within it.

The "Charter of European Cities and Towns: Towards Sustainability" can serve as a policy framework for the development of performance indicators based on the policy principles and orientations of the Charter. The European Foundation made a first attempt in developing a set of sustainability indicators in the framework of its project on medium-sized cities (EF 1994b). The set of indicators has been done based on a project elaborated in Harvard University (Mega 1994a). Fig.1 presents a conceptual framework for urban sustainability performance indicators based on the pressure-state-response model, while Fig. 2 gives the progress in constructing indicators from data to indexes.

The projects that follow all fall within the wishes and expectations of the Charter on European Sustainable Cities and Towns which was agreed upon in Aalborg on the occasion of the European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns. The place does matter.

The city of Aalborg prepared a development project for the integration of ecological principles and techniques in urban renewal. Citizens have been motivated to choose sustainable options in urban redevelopment.

 

Improving the urban metabolism

The awareness of environmental quality is being increasingly regarded as a civic value and different urban actions are undertaken for the change of environmental behaviour patterns. More and more cities recognize the need for pro-active policies leading to the conception of new systems of production and consumption. 'Green City' does not simply mean green spaces, grass roofs, timber frame constructions, improved energy systems and water cycles (Elkin and McLaren 1991). A whole cultural reform is needed to give meaning to all the technical achievements. A wide urban consensus is a necessary precondition. New environment-friendly lifestyles cannot be imposed, they are developed through innovative partnerships rooted in the local culture. Industry is becoming more cooperative. In a conference organized by the Foundation, (EF 1992a) the relevant working group was unanimous in suggesting the changing of the well-known 'Polluter pays pollution' principle, to 'Potential polluter pays the prevention of the pollution'. Prevention, awareness, pro-action and environmental culture seem essential for the art of building the sustainable city.

Implementing local Agenda 21 is a noble common objective and the sustainable communities project in the UK marks a step towards this direction. It has been initiated by the United Nations Association, following the Earth Summit in Rio and has as its objective the reduction of a community's unsustainable behaviour to a minimum. The project recognizes that in order to make sustainable communities radical change will have to take place within our cities and it is vital to provide vision to people so that they engage themselves. The emphasis of the project is on suggesting a process rather than prescribing a plan and has been running in 20 selected cities. At the heart of the project is the definition of a series of environmental indicators conceived to measure the environmental performance of a city against a wide range of criteria.

Cities compete among them to gain environmental credentials. It is a healthy battle. Leicester was the first British city to be given the status of Environment City and is trying to become a national and international model of excellence. Leicester Environment City is assisted by the 'Business Sector Network' to bring together ideas from the city's commercial sector and provide assistance to businesses, while 'Environ', a non-profit-making company, has been set up to provide local organizations with access to environmental audits and advice.

Environmental plans and charters are being undertaken by many European cities. In France environmental charters constitute contracts between the State and each city. The Charter of Mulhouse is a clear example of a strong will to improve environmental and public health. The general objectives of the Charter are the protection of natural resources, the improvement of life for inhabitants, the adoption of a perspective 'Health and Environment', the promotion of urban safety, the integration of socioeconomic objectives with the preservation of the environment and the participation in the protection of fauna and flora. All city structures have been mobilized to ensure the transparent and smooth implementation of the 52 actions of the Charter which includes the coordination of the Urban Plan, the Plan for Urban Transport, the Green Plan, the Charter of City Health, the Intelligent Waste Plan, the Energy Plan and respect for the environment and the policy for underprivileged districts.

Reconsideration of the urban metabolism puts lot of emphasis on waste. Waste is starting to be considered as a resource. Self-sufficiency seems more and more important for European cities and many innovative actions are being taken for the prevention of industrial waste and the avoidance, re-use and recycling of domestic waste. In Parma plastic waste is being transformed into building material and in Rimini organic waste from hotels into agricultural compost. Each citizen contributing to the latter highly environmental process is rewarded with a plant. The Municipality of Oeiras, in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, set up a backyard composting of organic waste programme. The project, very innovative in the Portuguese context, aims at reducing dramatically the amount of waste the municipal services collect, transport, treat and dispose of, giving inhabitants the possibility to produce by themselves a high quality fertiliser for their gardens and increasing people's awareness of urban environmental problems. In Aarhus, the Council that oversees recycling and minimally polluting technology processes and recycles 60-70% of domestic waste.

In Germany, environmental awareness has often been linked to socio-economic change, first and foremost in the cities which have been the scene of many socio-political transformation processes. With the challenges of unification in the city of Berlin, the ecological restructuring concept, introduced as early as 1984, came to prominence. It consisted of four elements, a set of guidelines, a model of field of action, the concept of ecological neighbourhood development and the concept of eco-stations. Citizen's participation is a must at all levels and stages. The concept advocates a new sustainable symbiosis between economy and ecology in the urban context and puts emphasis on environmental preventive policies to tackle anthropological origins of problems (Hahn 1992).

In one of the most active German cities during the transition period, Leipzig, ecology found a fertile ground. Non-governmental organizations, together with the city government and the citizens, started environmental projects to overcome the really degraded living conditions. Ecology has been used as a means for socioeconomic change. The ecological restructuring of the eastern part of Leipzig is a very good example of ecological restructuring of the whole, starting from several ecological projects and the establishment of sustainable links between city and country. Many of the projects are already implemented. Transport and traffic conditions have improved and attractive green passages link natural spaces inside and outside the city.

All over Europe, cities are becoming laboratories of ecological innovation. Schwabach, a small, self-standing German city of 37000 inhabitants, offers an example of the efforts to implement an urban ecology planning strategy. The city has been selected by the Federal Ministry because of its unified, dynamic local government and its ecological achievements to date, especially in waste management. Basic principles are that nothing is impossible and everybody has to participate. The pilot study aimed at introducing ecological concepts and actions to a normal city, under normal conditions and with normal funds. After the study, the city council issued guidelines for action and translated them into a concrete programme in its 1993-2003 Model Urban Development Strategy, leading to Schwabach Ecological City. Public polls were held and questionnaires completed by 1 out of every 17 households: nobody is against ecology, but they need quick successes and think that closing the city to cars is only possible with a revolution (even for an historic centre of a diameter of 700 m and 20 000 households). The detractors of the project want quick visible ecological results and the Ministry agreed to fund the creation of Ecological City Hall.

The neighbourhood level is often highlighted as the level of action in many European cities. In the Netherlands, local authorities are experimenting with new types of neighbourhood management with specific focus on the quality of the local everyday environment. The Romolenporder neighbourhood management in the community of Haarlem gives a good example of ecological neighbourhood management, with people participating in the planning and realization of the neighbourhood and the construction of the houses (timber frame constructions, grass roofs, energy systems).

At the scale of the block, Berlin, the 'recycled city', offers various examples. 'Block 103' is an interesting example, in combining social wellbeing and environmental upgrading. Former squatters in the block have been given the opportunity to own the space they occupied and, at the same time, they have been trained in converting the houses into ecological modern buildings. Special emphasis has been given to energy, water, green spaces and new material and techniques. Another complex, Block 6, has been the field for innovation in alternative water systems. The system is based on a combination of cleaning techniques for the water depending on its origin, previous use and destination use. The project emphasises the learning and communication process. Residents have been trained in 'feeling' the process. The system allows 50% savings in water, while the society of inhabitants participates in the technological monitoring (IFS 1990-1991).

Industrial, technological and business parks throughout Europe provide some examples of public-private partnerships for turning areas of blight into healthy spaces and areas of positive environmental and economic profit. Stockley Park, a former derelict rubbish tip within the Greenbelt to the west of London, provides an inspiring example. A partnership has been created between the developer, the local authority and the University in order to build an international business park and public parkland including recreational facilities. In exchange for the right to construct a business park over 36 hectares, the developer guaranteed the reclamation of the whole site (140 hectares), removal of groundwater pollution and environmental enhancement and landscaping. At all stages of the construction of Stockley, local residents were involved in the process through extensive community consultation.

In Germany, the IBA Emscher Park has been an important role model for urban development and ecological renewal within the northern Ruhr district. Experts from 10 European cities, together with the cities and industries of the Emscher region, work for the modernization of coal mining settlements and the creation of new housing; the development of fallow land and the valorization of attractive locations for industry and services; the preservation and reuse of industrial monuments; the landscaping of the Emscher area into a park; the ecological restructuring of the Emscher river and the protection of the water environment. New dwellings have been created on fallow land and with new environment-friendly material. High quality locations for industry and services have been given value. Contaminated areas are insulated and re-used. 'Working in the park' is possible owing to the enhancement of the quality and attractiveness of the area.

 

For a less sustainable urban mobility: facing addiction to the private car

The dependence of cities on the private car is being increasingly considered as a major urban addiction. Environmental problems in metropolitan areas do not mainly come from production; they come from consumption and mainly from traffic. The dialectic interaction and synergy between cities, enterprises and citizens are essential for favouring public transport and the bicycle over the private car and giving priority to the pedestrian (UITP 1991). The restriction of the private car is still creating conflict (Seville, Toledo), but in many cases conflict generates new forms of collaboration and partnership. Historic cities, most affected by the pressure of car traffic on their cultural heritage, have been pioneers in restricting private cars. In a referendum organized in 1984 by the city of Bologna, the population opted in favour of the pedestrianization of the historic centre and a global project has been carried out, comprising the rehabilitation of the historic fabric, improvements in the nearest suburbs, pedestrian and bicycle networks, public transport and parking spaces. Many Italian cities followed (Indovina 1993). Recent experiments include the closure of Rome to cars for one afternoon per week and of the Naples historic centre for two days per week.

Transport systems are being accused everywhere in the world as no longer able to deliver the expected levels of service and especially as contributing by 90% to air pollution. Many of the signs of failure are clearly visible (rapidly moving traffic, safety problems, declining amenities, noise, air pollution) and others harder to spot (social and economic damage on cities and businesses). The great irony is that this conclusion is virtually the direct result of urban system policies in the last decades. System saturation is certainly not an accident. The need for urgent limitations and system controls have to be the cornerstones of future urban policies. Traffic provisions are like arteries in the urban body, but they should be subordinate to and not dominate the body of the city. There is a delicate balance between the city and the car and the diseconomy of scale, starting at a certain point or limit. No matter what mobility at no matter what price cannot serve objectives of urban quality of life. Replacing the focus on accessibility is the only possible direction. Land use management is a main factor for establishing a new and harmonious relationship between the city and the car. The valorization of public spaces is an important element of this relationship.

Achieving the accessible city cannot be left to the market alone. Families cannot compete with enterprises when buying central places for residential or professional use. A city is not a marketable good; it is a political entity and it is a political action, based on a new urban culture and new forms of consensus, which should lead to the accessible city. The distinction between access and mobility is not a trivial one. Unlike sheer mobility, access means not only getting people where they need to go but also getting to them what they need and telecommunications play a major role in that. Progress in telecommunications impact greatly on the configuration of the city and on urban technical infrastructures - examples being the unification of cables and the disappearance of TV antennas with the generalization of optical fibres.

The 1993 Granada Declaration had already recognized five strategic pillars for achieving accessibility: greater reliance on coordinated land use policy for the attenuation of the unnecessary physical movements, reduction of the need for motorized displacements, broadening of the range of alternative telecommunications systems for the substitution of physical movements and articulation of the above for building up an effective, integrated, multi-model and multilevel access system. The Toledo conference on the Accessible City followed this direction.

International experiences at the cutting edge were also presented and discussed. Experience from Swiss cities (Zurich, Basle, Berne) and German cases (Aachen) were particularly interesting. Zurich is one of the few cities that has developed a coherent solution to a problems of traffic build-up at intersections. The particularity of the system is its ability to deal with each public transport vehicle individually, allowing it to cross intersections without stopping. Urbanism and Land use Planning favour public transport, channelling motor vehicle traffic and restricting traffic in residential areas. Efforts to restructure the settlement pattern are underway everywhere in Switzerland and several cantonal laws for physical planning request further developments of housing and workplace in the vicinity of public transport lines. There are also many private and public/private initiatives. Energy 2000 is a new federal effort to engage private enterprises and initiative in saving energy including training of drivers (eco-driving), promotion of the combining of logistics and transport to improve fuel-efficient freight transport.

There are many pessimists about the achievement of the accessible city. Many remarked that we are coming to the same conclusions over the last 20 years. The experience of Bologna is very significant. Despite the huge efforts to limit the private car in the last 10 years the use of motor cars went from 28.3% in 1981 to 39.8% in 1991 in the city and from 48.7% to 57.85% in the periphery.

Heidelberg and Freiburg have been pioneers in introducing low-noise vehicles in noise protection districts and Basle introduced the eco-ticket for public transport. Clean, silent and fast tramways gain acceptance in European cities. In La Rochelle, a new multi-optional concept (Autoplus) has been introduced through a partnership between municipalities, the semi-public company for public transport, taxi owners, two private bus owners, one ship owner, hotel owners and a bank. The limitation of the private car comes as a consequence of many information and consultation campaigns Nantes, Grenoble and Strasbourg introduced from 1985. In Toulouse, the city, the semi-public enterprise for public transport and the society which has created the smart-pass work together for the readjustment of the transport services to people's needs.

Social wellbeing considerations are linked to the provision of public transport (Conseil National des Transports 1990), pedestrian streets and bicycle paths are re-emerging in many European cities. Copenhagen has been a pioneer city in recognizing the social value of pedestrian streets. When the main street, Str›get, was pedestrianized in 1962 (as one of the very early such systems in Europe) there was a heated discussion. Many believed that the scheme was contrary to Nordic mentality and culture, however it became a great success almost right away. Pedestrianization continued over a period of 30 years and the down-town parking policy aimed to remove 2-3% of the parking space per year, as a very gradual process. With the improvement of the public system and the enlargement of the bicycle network, more and more space has been taken away from traffic and given to people (Rautsi 1993).

Many European experiments on pedestrian schemes have been introduced in the seventies. In the city of Perugia, the pedestrianization of the historic centre started in 1971. Mobile stairs have been constructed in the rock to connect the old city with the modern one and the parking spaces. The passage through the mobile stairs is a valorized space of urban archaeology. The city made innovative experiments by reorganizing the bus network, especially for peripheral zones. The telebus service, introduced in 1985, runs along a principal route, with additional collateral routes, which are served only by request. This is done by means of a magnetic card distributed to the user and a communication centre. The system has proved very efficient (22% savings) and it is particularly interesting in areas with sparse settlement. Increased flexibility in the organization of collective transport operators permits the better adaptation of supply to the changing pattern of user demand. Moreover this type of system provides access to transport for people with reduced mobility (European Foundation 1992c).

In Umbria, the Orvieto alternative mobility system also has many innovative elements. The system was created out of the need to improve an urban life deteriorating because of tourist buses on the historic town on top of the hill, the fragility of the rock morphology and the will to revitalize the old funicular. With the completion of the system, all cars will be parked in large parking spaces at the foot of the Orvieto hills, the funicular will take all passengers on top of the hill and a system of minibuses will take them around the city. The system will be completed with the creation of mobile infrastructure stairs through the rocky caves and management with mon‚tique.

A research study undertaken by the European Commission on 'The City without Car' is suggesting the reconception of a city in pedestrian terms. A city without cars could be composed of various small units, accessible on foot from one end to the other, separated by green spaces and united by high-speed public transport. A city without cars seems to be not only ecologically efficient, but even economically efficient, as it seems to be 2 to 5 times less co stly. In such a city, enterprise has new local challenges to meet, as job creation is essential for the self-efficiency and sustainability of each small urban unit (CEC 1992c).

Following the research, the city of Amsterdam which had also gone through a recent referendum on the restriction of the private care organized the conference "Car-Free Cities?". The interrogation point does matter, as it expressed reactions, reluctances and inhibitions. On that occasion, the Club of Car-Free Cities was launched by cities committed to promoting policies discouraging the use of private cars. Toledo became the fortieth city to join the club in October 1994.

 

Psychic wellbeing of cities

Harmony in cities depends greatly on the social wellbeing and the creative co-existence of many cultures. However, many cities seem social jungles even if they are showcases of financial power. Beyond environmental considerations, social justice is a main criterion to challenge the overall qualities of the city as a social system. However, there are as many competing theories of social justice as competing groups and it is important to look at the ways a particular urban society produces such variations in concepts. Egalitarian views may also be wrong, as 'there is nothing more unequal as the equal treatment of unequals' (Harvey 1983).

Achieving social justice and environmental improvement are not two unrelated objectives. Even in the most prosperous European cities there are urban islands where environmental degradation and social exclusion go hand in hand. They are more or less extended zones in run-down city centres or chaotic peripheral zones. They are places of functional impoverishment with poor housing and insufficient equipment and facilities. Is it a coincidence that the social features of these areas are: poverty, delinquency and crime, high unemployment, low mobility, little access to information, education and training? (Jacquier 1991).

Urban innovation should invest in generating employment though new economic, environment friendly activities improving the quality of life in cities. Offering access to this to disadvantaged groups heavily affected by poor urban conditions is giving them new opportunities for creating self-esteem and a better urban conditions. In all European cities, new environmental jobs (recycling business, water cleansing, etc.), totally unknown 10 years before, are being created. Orienting those people most affected by an unhealthy environment can have considerable results in the dual fight of exclusion and environmental deterioration (EF 1992b).

It is not a coincidence that the innovative actions on job creation we included in the overview of innovative projects come from the countries with the highest unemployment in the EU? The Dublin inner city partnership represents a local area-based response to long-term unemployment. The 'Argilan' employment, guidance and training project in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, has three specific objectives: regeneration of the economic web of the city through new professions; qualification and re-qualification of the labour force, adapting it to the requirements of demand and prevention of social exclusion. 'The Big Issue' in London gave new opportunities to the homeless and unemployed. Launched in 1991, with the support of 'The Body Shop', the Big Issue quickly became London's fastest growing publication with a circulation of 80 000 copies per issue and 1000 vendors. It is now self-financing and expanding in many British and European cities (EF 1993a).

The "Big Issue" project is exemplary in linking employment generation with the major problem of homelessness in European cities, which is still far from the 100 000 homeless of New York cities but figures are galloping. More than 2000 homeless seek shelter in the Paris metro stations every night. They are under a two-fold threat: they may drift into delinquency or may become tramps. It is the health of the whole of urban society which is put in question. And prevention is again highlighted as of prime importance, as cure is only coming after a failure.

Improving the social environment is being closely linked to the prevention of crime and delinquency (DIV 1990). Transport enterprises are the ones most concerned with crime prevention, as transportation spaces and mobile elements are main targets for juvenile delinquency. Graffiti attacks, not related to any form of artistic expression, seem to be the post-modern way of attacking public spaces and property. RATP in Paris set up a specific service for the prevention of graffiti attacks through research on the attackers and for the investigation of more efficient ways of repairing damage (RATP, UITP 1992). 8 Cities have set up innovative direct or indirect crime prevention plans. Danish cities are experimenting with a series of action plans, focusing lately on the strengthening of area consciousness through the inhabitants' involvement in the creation of a better physical residential environment.

An innovative integrated approach to fighting graffiti in public spaces has been developed in Maastricht. The project includes extra means to trace the offenders, education programmes to improve the skills of the graffiti 'artists' and an anti-graffiti bus with formerly unemployed people specialized in removing graffiti. The city made a wall available to the graffiti artists in training where they can express their feelings. Within two years the damage caused by graffiti pollution decreased considerably (80-90% at the railway station). The result of prevention is always hard to prove, but it is clear that graffiti has decreased considerably in Maastricht. Tracing and conditional or alternative punishment have a noticeable effect on preventing recidivism, while there are ex-offenders who, after their artistic training, have become famous artists.

The quality of housing environment is of great importance for the psychic health of a city. In many cases, deterioration of living environments, the cells of the city, leads to disconnection of the urban tissue and innovations in social housing proved to be an essential factor of social integration (CECODHAS 1990; Tsiomis 1991; Stewart and Carew-Wood 1991; Mega 1992c). Mass housing often created social tensions on the urban fringe. It has often been paternalistic, large, remote, uniform, collective, reactive, anonymous, devoid of management and it failed. In many European cities it is now beginning to be self-regulated, local, personal, individualized, pro-active, with corporate neighbourhood space and responsive local management. It has to make proof of vitality of work and enterprise and to allow personal identification. Vibrant local communities are replacing void neighbourhoods. The present energetic and environmental requirements create new needs for landscaping and energy efficiency.

The renewal of the Holly Street Estate in the UK provides an interesting case. The estate was constructed during the 1960s and 1970s as a series of slab and tower blocks, as part of a national slum clearance and social housing programme. Replacing the traditional two-storey East London terraced houses, the estate, comprising 1187 dwellings, became notorious for its state of deprivation, crime and delinquency. The Borough Council recognized that the only means of dealing with the problems of Holly Street is through its demolition and reconstruction. The renewal project was initiated in response to the British Government's Comprehensive Estates Initiative, making funding available for the redevelopment of social housing estates whose physical and social decay is so severe that refurbishment is not viable. This is an effort to maximize every opportunity for community and economic development through the redevelopment process and to help break the cycle of welfare dependency and poverty.

An analogous project in Alicante, the renewal of the 'Quarter of 1000 housing units', is transforming a degraded social environment into a functional, friendly space. Unemployed inhabitants have been engaged in the renewal works, while all citizens gave their views for the design of the new quarter. The renewal of the Mascagni area in Reggio Emilia is also a good example. It created a multifunctional urban space out of a rigid series of anonymous buildings, a functional combination of old and new with integrated public services and links to the natural environment.

There is a need for intelligent buildings and home environments. The Social Housing Association in Greece created an innovative residential village for low income households, called the Solar Village. The design and planning of the area constitute an environmental experiment, as it exploits sunlight to the maximum and provides many environmental benefits. The Danish co-housing concept offers an innovative approach reconciling the need for new forms of housing with the demand for sustainable development. There are about 30 co-housing communities in Denmark, each comprising 20-50 households. They consist of individual and owner-occupied houses, each one of them designed by the owner himself. A communal house, in the middle, includes a communal dining room and various workshops and facilities, from a playground to an organic garden and a couple of wind turbines producing electricity.

Partnership and solidarity for urban economic regeneration and housing improvement are evident in the case of Glasgow, the city which refused to die. Social housing makes up 60% of the housing stock of the city and there are many rehabilitation projects, undertaken by housing associations. During the late 1980s, housing cooperatives have been set up in Glasgow's peripheral estates, where high-rise housing schemes were created in the 1960s and perceived then to offer better living conditions. Twenty years later, those housing estates were synonymous with marginalized people, poor housing, drug abuse and crime. Housing associations undertook the physical improvement of the estates: improvement of housing conditions is achieved by a mix of rehabilitation, selective demolition and newly-built houses, with residents taking responsibility for the development and management of their homes.

 

Strategies for integrated urban environmental policies: urban renaissance

Many urban schemes and concepts advocate the renaissance, the revitalization, the regeneration and the refounding of European cities like "Civitas". Making the city a multicultural place, with mix and diversity, reflecting its pluricultural past and offering choices and options for the future seems the main vision and challenge. The urban village, introduced by L‚on Krier, includes many of these concepts. Urban functions and services necessary for daily life and ensuring the art of living in cities should be found within every urban quarter, where every resident should also be able to find work. According to L‚on Krier, zoning led to an anti-urban labyrinth, which broke traditional structures, centrality and urbanity. Megalopoles should grow by multiplication and not by over-expansion and consist of a number of urban villages of optimum dimensions. Large cities should rediscover the small scale and short distance. The mix of urban functions and uses is at the very centre of many European dialogues (Etudes FonciŠres 1991).

No urban territory is isotrope and each part of the city is unique, but there are some common challenges most urban areas want to meet: a good environmental image, social efficiency, jobs generation and self-generated and reinvested wealth. Many urban areas in crisis try to discover a new culture of plan and they believe that plan should be perceived as a strong, transparent and legitimate reference and direction, well beyond any imposition of administrative obligation. The private sector with its dynamism, the local authorities and the state with their concern for the common good and the citizens, as producers and consumers, workers and inhabitants are the three main partners for the regeneration of the areas in crisis, especially for peripheral areas, where there is still open space to consume, urban land added-value to create and social and technical infrastructure to improve.

The urban periphery is at the very heart of these concerns. According to A. Touraine: "We are living, at this moment, the passage from a vertical society we used to call class society (with people above and below) to a horizontal society, where it is important to know who is at the centre and who at the periphery. The periphery is a zone of great uncertainty and tensions, where people do not know if they are in or out. To face this problem, the principal demand is the creation of a local democracy. This seems often impossible because good things are always supposed to come from the centre and bad things from the periphery. The centre often represents the reason, the Universe (school, the state ...) while the periphery (people, firms, interests, professions) expresses uniquely the interest ..."

City policy (Politique de la Ville) in France, the only EU county to have a ministry for the city, sheds light on all urban peripheries in critical conditions. Partnerships with enterprises for the redevelopment of whole areas aim at improving living and public spaces and bringing businesses and life to the area. In our overview, we included two projects of the French City Policy. Epernay's Protocol of Occupancy of its Social Heritage gives an example of recreating housing estates with an economic approach to complete district revival and a constant concern to prevent isolation and exclusion. The "Citizens House" project in Villeurbanne is an example of a centre to exercise citizenship. Entrusted by the city and the prefecture an advisory office created an expert group, all of them inhabitants of the district and representatives of the population. It took them only six months to define the project with the wishes of the inhabitants.

Urban peripheries suffered a lot from rigid zoning. Many satellite urban areas have been condemned to be dormitory towns as in general they were composed of homogenous and anonymous housing estates without - or with very few - local jobs and services. They have been condemned to be desert areas, not fulfilling the expectations from a city, as a place of socialization and choice. There is no doubt that all these planning experiments have failed and there are requirements for multifunctional alive urban peripheral areas where people can live, work and dream.

New towns created after the war can teach a lot. They were intended to be keystones of a new urban age, complete cities in every respect and many of them show a singular blend of public works and private enterprise, of centralized creation and decentralized management. The new cities have known both success and failure. The experience gained with their creation cannot be reduced to a universally applicable or an easy-to-follow model. Nevertheless a good understanding of the reasons of success and failure provides valuable insight for all these who face the challenges of modern cities. In a caricaturist way, one can say that the cities which failed were the ones which did not succeed in attracting businesses, providing services in jobs and meeting the challenge of mixity. The integration of policies has been in question for many of them. In our overview we identified various urban renewal and regeneration projects that start with corporate approaches to the economic and physical restructuring of vulnerable areas. In Dublin, the designation of under-used and derelict areas and the introduction of incentives for attracting private development into these areas has already produced some interesting results. Dublin Corporation also set up a 'Living Over the Shop' project team to encourage and assist property owners to convert their upper floors into residential areas. On a smaller 'site' scale, in Galway, residential developments above the main shopping centre and other shopping and office sites led to the creation of housing estates on the second or third floor.

Urban renaissance seems to be a rediscovered issue. The recreation of cities like "Civitas" highlights the importance of citizenship and the reconstruction of the "urbis" makes the city an area of universality, organized in a given territory, increasingly functional and varied. Medium-sized cities are among pioneers in this process. The regulatory plan of Siena (1990) is an example of creating modern life in an old city where cultural associations (Conrade) have a power parallel to the city. The special plan of Toledo 11 is based on the following axes: clarification of the dialogue between historic and modern city, enhancement of the historic legacy (consisting of movement spaces, vernacular architectural spaces and the tissue of the streets), an accessibility plan, (including an access plan for cars which absolutely have to go to the centre), optimization of the potentialities (coming out from the physical morphology, an island anchored on the valley of Catilla), optimization of the structural image of Toledo and the coexistence of the historic centre with the socioeconomic centre, promotion of the functional mixity and articulation of University/Cultural/Administrative and Touristic functions. The plan offers a good radiography of the city and its problems.

Public spaces, the noble connective tissue of the cities, are beginning to be given special attention (Council of Europe 1990, 1992). The Brussels Region launched a programme on the quality of their public spaces as for almost 40 years, huge investments in road building had led to the excessive standardization of Brussels' public spaces. Brussels-Capital region prepared the 'Manual of Brussels Public Spaces' aimed at setting up qualitative recommendations for the functional, environmental, cultural and aesthetic character of the spaces. Roads and pavements, roadside plantations and public lighting are being given considerable importance in achieving coherence and identity in the public spaces. The image of the urban district is an added-value to the image of an enterprise. And it is not simply a question of a visual picture. It has to do with the everyday quality of life and work.

Many cities have to manage the 'after event', the space they created for a 'once-in-a-lifetime' celebration. Barcelona provides an example and a model (Henri 1992). The city has lived for centuries with its back to the sea. The creation of a new seafront has been one of the challenges met with the celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games. The contact with the sea has been the common denominator of the three major interventions: the creation of the Olympic Village, the remodelling of the industrial port and the renovation of the Diagonal Mar area. The private sector has been very active in carrying out these three major interventions, bringing a radical change in the perception and use of the urban space by the citizens. The Olympic village is being converted into an attractive residential area with office spaces and green zones leading to the sea-front. The renovation of the old port is under way and the Diagonal Mar action will develop in a period of 7 to 10 years. The 1992 Olympic Games have been a starting and not a concluding point for future perspectives.

In Seville the island of Cartuja, seat of the Universal Exhibition of 1992, now welcomes new activities. EXPO '92 gave the city the opportunity to become an urban laboratory and a symbol for urban innovation. Seville, as the mirror of a multicultural past, a magnifying glass for the present and a telescope for the future, has itself been an exhibition during EXPO '92. A thematic park opened just eight months after the closure of EXPO and has already become third in the world, from its number of visitors. A technological and business park occupies the rest of the space of the EXPO. The Confederation of Andalusian Employers was the first to establish itself there, an example followed by many firms which bought remaining pavilions and plan new activities there. The recycling of the EXPO '92 in Seville is proving to be a model and a lesson for cities like Lisbon, preparing EXPO '98.

 

The European city: an ongoing referendum

Citizens' participation is a common denominator for most urban revitalization projects. The approximation between citizens and administration is already an irreversible trend in European cities. No more major decisions concerning the future of cities are taken without a well-defined civil consensus. In Barcelona more than 160 city associations participate in the preparation of the economic and social strategic plan, the basic instrument for urban change. In Brussels, the consultation procedures for planning introduce new concepts. In Reggio Emilia, citizens participate in the compiling of the city budget with the use of new technologies. In Valencia, citizens participate in the tracing of the new metro lines. Cities like Evora or Siena already count hundreds of citizen's associations.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the geography of Europe is changing dramatically (Masser et al. 1992, DATAR 1993). Europe is increasingly a dynamic pluricultural space of variable geometry. It tends to be a network of urban regions or regional cities, which articulates the economic and sociocultural system, such as the Dutch Randstad. New visions and challenges emerged with the birth of the European Union. However, there is awareness that the abolition of national frontiers does not automatically give birth to an integrated Europe. The 'united' Europe cannot be an isotropic territory; it may be a Europe of territories in competition - and cities are at the forefront of competing territories. They try to become more intelligent (CEC 1992a; DIV, OECD, URBA 2000 1990; Hall et al. 1991), more flexible (EF 1993b), more efficient, more urban (OECD 1994): they all want to be the cities of tomorrow (IFHP 1993). Most of them believe that creating a better and more equitable environment is an asset for their future. They all agree that the renaissance of European cities is essential for the renaissance of Europe.

 

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