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Analysis of the effects of urban form on neighborhood vitality: five cases in Valdivia, Southern Chile

Abstract

The transformation of Chilean cities has followed a similar morphological pattern of change as observed in European and North American cities. From individuals to communities, social interactions have been decreasing following the individualistic single-family housing model. Evaluating these changes provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of urban form, especially in intermediate cities in southern Chile in which there is very little evidence of these processes. Assessing neighborhood vitality, as it is triggered by components of urban form, can help contribute recommendations for more sustainable future planning and the improvement of current environments. This study investigates the effects of urban form on neighborhood vitality in five neighborhoods in the city of Valdivia, Chile. Quantitative and qualitative methods are used to explore the morphological elements that influence human activity, to determine how various spatial elements impact vitality levels. Results show that certain neighborhoods have a greater degree of morphological adaptability to generate a diversity of uses. Further, four conditions are associated to increased human interaction in neighborhoods, including land use mix, block size, plot sizes and adaptability. Finally, our results are used to propose recommendations to guide the urban design of neighborhoods towards a more sustainable path.

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Acknowledgements

Our thanks to CONICYT for funding this research under the Project FONDECYT Number “11160096”, and to Universidad Austral de Chile.

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Correspondence to Antonio Zumelzu.

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Zumelzu, A., Barrientos-Trinanes, M. Analysis of the effects of urban form on neighborhood vitality: five cases in Valdivia, Southern Chile. J Hous and the Built Environ 34, 897–925 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-019-09694-8

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Keywords

  • Chile
  • Latin America
  • Neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood vitality
  • Urban form