The characteristics of the Green Apple may be different in each city, but there is a common denominator that symbolically links them: careful design as well as territorial, social, ecological, environmental and technological characteristics.
The development of Green Apple philosophy seeks to create a handbook of common characteristics involved in planning and building aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, based on the following criteria:
At a planning level, the Green Apple could have a diverse size that could range between 80 and 150 ha. depending on the different cities. Regarding the plots of land that are assigned for the construction of buildings, the dimensions may also vary, although, as a general reference, we will use the classic prototype (100 X 100 metres), which would mean an average area of approximately 10.000m2.
As an urban project, the Green Apple could become a «superblock», as some structuralists embarked upon in the 1960s. These «superblocks» locate the communication and transport nodes on the outskirts of the superblock, facilitating road transport around the perimeter, and giving priority to the pedestrian and bicycle in the centre.
The Green Apple could be located either in a consolidated area of the city or in an area of expansion. Being in the consolidated city, it will probably be enclosed in an urban renewal area.
Housing would be sufficiently dense to ensure the urban compactness and prevent unnecessary use of territory, preserving this as a natural resource. As we know, the compact city as opposed to urban sprawl, reduces the transport distances, facilitating mobility and accessibility, saves energy, creates less pollution and represents time savings for citizens that would otherwise lose time travelling longer distances and / or stuck in traffic.
The use of the resulting buildings would be mixed: residential, tertiary, commercial, equipment and leisure. This means developing complexity, a complementary aspect of compactness, since in a given urban space there is a combination of various types of activities. This allows each sector of the city to be self-sufficient, as opposed to city zoning, where one must move from one site to another to perform different functions.
Likewise, the residential section would also be mixed, consisting of free-market housing and subsidized or social housing (homes benefiting from public support), which would promote social cohesion.
The open spaces and green areas form an essential part of the Green Apple, which may include children’s play areas, organic gardens, leisure and recreation areas, etc.
The buildings in the Green Apple would have spaces for activities that allow the reconciliation of personal, work and family life. As a result, this should improve employability and social participation, especially among disadvantaged groups.
Another interesting feature is that the complex could have an «Entrepreneurship Centre» telecommuting premises linked to the homes, in order to promote knowledge-based society (R + D + i). In turn, this could become an education centre for people in the Green Apple and the city itself.
The public space is considered as the backbone of the city, holding the balance between building space and open spaces. Green Apples would benefit from an urban environment with attractive public spaces with sufficient quality green space; safe and conducive to social activities.
Consideration of a pedestrian scale combined with cycle and bus lanes, would facilitate mobility and accessibility within and outside the Green Apple, and must be connected with the citizen network.
The construction would put special emphasis on passive design of buildings, based on parameters such as suitable climatic and geographical orientation to promote efficiency and energy savings, the use of environmental quality materials and renewable energy for climate control.
The proposals of uses and equipments would ensure proximity to economic activities, as well as basic education, health centres, community centres, sports facilities, cultural centres and leisure areas.
Overall, the Green Apple aims to contribute to the creation of a territorial model, on a sustainable planning and building level, contributing to social integration, mixing residential, commercial and tertiary uses, as well as community facilities and green zones, integrating energy efficiency systems and water savings, optimal recovery of waste, and incorporating information and knowledge technologies (R + D + i).
02 Location criteria
In order to carry out the search for an appropriate location for the Green Apple, a number of requirements were established with the aim of selecting the most appropriate sites from an environmental, urban planning and socio-economic point of view. Not all of the cities involved in the project had more than one location to choose from, however, in cities such as Malaga with various different options available, it was important to organise the requirements in order of importance and establish the selection process.
We propose three main selection criteria: a) environment and climate change, b) urban planning, c) social and economic.
For each of the main selection criteria, we established a second level of criteria which had a direct relationship with the indicators which were also established. For the criteria a) environment and climate change, we highlighted 10 parameters, from the harmonious integration into the landscape to the minimisation of natural risks, including climatic conditions, mobility, air quality or the management of natural resources such as water or urban waste management.
The indicators used in this group are linked to each of the parameters. For example, for the harmonious integration into the landscape, we can highlight i) the integration, protection or creation of the natural environment: sea, rivers, orchards or forests. This indicator helps evaluate the possibility of interaction between the selected location and the local environment. ii) the conservation, use and management of urban green areas, evaluating the possibility of intervening in existing urban areas within the selected area.
For mobility, a key parameter, the calculation of the indicator of proximity and possibility of being connected to public transport networks involved analysing how close relevant public transport networks were to the proposed location. The indicator regarding traffic circulation and public areas takes into account the capacity of adopting strategies to reduce the use of the private vehicle and the promotion of urban life, public pedestrian areas and interaction between citizens.
The use of this criteria therefore has allowed us to select the most appropriate area of the city to implement the Green Apple project from the various different proposed sites, highlighting the benefits and advantages of each site as well as their disadvantages and more problematic aspects.
The parameters and indicators established at a technical level in the project had a continued use with the development of a Guide to Planning and Design which was worked on by the members of the Metropolitan groups. The Metropolitan Groups represent the governance part of the CAT-MED project, involving citizen and neighbourhood participation in the implementation of the Green Apple.
The Guide to Planning and Design is composed of a series of 6 forms through which it was possible to collect the proposals and design specifications for each of the discussed themes.
The forms are organised according to six themed axis: territorial management and urban design; mobility and transport; management or natural resources and carbon footprint; economic and social cohesion; governance of the planification and construction process in the pilot area; specific characteristics of the Mediterranean area.