Contribution to the SOLA Research Symposium

The SOLA Research Symposium will take place on the 9th and 10th of November at Lincoln University. The focus of this year’s symposium is the integration of green and grey infrastructures and their potential to contribute to liveable cities.

Professor Simon Swaffield and I have been working on a paper to be presented at the symposium. The abstract of our contribution is outlined below.


Promoting urban comfort: Urban greenery in a compact future

Increasing urban population has required cities to re-think their strategies for minimising greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts and adapting to climate change. While urban design and planning policy have been guided by drivers such as walkability (to reduce the dependence on cars) and green infrastructure (to enhance the quality of open spaces to support conservation and human values), there have been conflicting views on what spatial strategies will best prepare cities for a challenging future. Researchers supporting compact cities based upon public transport-orientated development have claimed that walkability, higher density, and mixed uses make cities more sustainable (Owen, 2009), and that while green spaces in cities are necessary they are dull in comparison to shopfronts and street vendors (Speck, 2012, p. 250). Other researchers claim that green infrastructure is fundamental to improve urban sustainability and attract public space users by improved urban comfort, consequently encouraging walkability (Pitman & Ely, 2013). Landscape architects tend to assume that ‘the greener the better’, however, the efficiency of urban greenery in regards to urban comfort and urbanity depends on its density, distribution, and the services provided. Green infrastructure can take many shapes and forms (from urban forests to street trees), and provide varied services (amended microclimate, aesthetics, ecology, and so forth). In this paper we evaluate the relevance of current policy in Christchurch in regards both to best practice in green infrastructure and in regard to urban comfort (Tavares, 2015). We focus on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS) and the City Blueprint, and critically examine the post-earthquake paths the city is following regarding its green and grey infrastructures, and resulting urban environment. The performance and appropriateness of the current UDS and City Blueprint in post-earthquake Christchurch will be discussed, particularly in regards to current challenges cities worldwide are facing regarding climate change.

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Owen, D. (2009). Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability (Kindle Ed.). New York, USA: Penguin Publishing Group.
Pitman, S., & Ely, M. (2013). From grey to green: life support for human habitats. The evidence base for green infrastructure. In G. Williams & N. Wojcik (Eds.), Greenhouse 2013: the Science of Climate Change (pp. 4–5). Adelaide, Australia: University of Adelaide.
Speck, J. (2012). Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. New York, NY, USA: North Point Press.
Tavares, S. G. (2015). Urban Comfort: Adaptive capacity in post-earthquake Christchurch. Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand. Retrieved from

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