Rome, its region and the regeneration of the “light city”

Antonio Pietro Latini


Despite a climate of broadly shared hostility towards low-density settlements, in recent years, several authoritative studies, projects and policies have dealt with different declensions of this model with a positive attitude.
For at least 100 years, an impressive number of derogatory campaigns have been thrown against one-family-house suburbs, the deriving sprawl and the supposed consequent negative effects. This article attempts at first a rough, operational classification relative to the aspects considered (economic, functional, environmental, social, aesthetic) and mentions the arguments used by critics as they appear in two overall studies on this topic.
Nevertheless, if one considers the settlement type rather than its negative products, none of these charges seems to withstand the test of an accurate scrutiny but one. In fact, a considerable amount of studies – here references, taken from the same overall studies and from some more recent contributions, and arguments adopted are mentioned as well, following the same classification – has argued that low-density settlements can produce better results than the high-density ones or, at least, comparable from a general sustainability point of view and produce many favourable effects. Thus, rather than on the parameter of density, positive products depend on good, context sensitive design.
However, low-density settlements in their making may replace – and cause an irreparable loss of – beautiful pristine natural or agricultural landscapes. This very fact might suggests that public policies should curb development or force it towards dense and compact settings, regardless to the considerable disadvantages deriving from this choice.
Nevertheless, in specific circumstances, a composition among conflicting goals may be found through design. Considering the actual condition of the “light city” – most of the settlements surrounding major centres, that is – as in Rome and its region, where large areas are already affected by a conspicuous amount of casual and disorderly building, a strategy of regeneration seems advisable and feasible. This would provide opportunities for new housing, well-designed landscape and investments within reach of a large quantity of households.


Light City; Urban Regeneration; Sprawl Repair; Urban Design; Landscape Planning; Suburbia Retrofit.

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CSE Journal - City Safety Energy is a semiannual journal (Two ISSUES per Year) published by Le Penseur in Brienza (PZ) - Italy | ISSN print edition 2283-8767 | ISSN online edition 2284-3418 - Journal registerd at the Court of Potenza (Italy) n. 219/2014