Extreme cities and bad places

  • Paola ViganòEmail author
Open Access


This article considers places where climate change-induced hazards will be particularly important, focusing on two examples, the lagoon location of Venice and the Garonne riverbank location of Bordeaux. The Venice lagoon territory is close to the coast and has a dispersed form of urban development. Our project experiments resulted in the formulation of a series of adaptation strategies to increased disaster risks, including returning current agricultural land and residential areas to their original state as wetlands and marshes before their reclamation during the early decades of the twentieth century. The scenarios introduce space as a relevant variable into the debate about the impact of climate change and adaptation. This article also deals with the recovery of “bad places,” such as the urban blight on the Garonne riverbanks of Bordeaux, and their relationship with sustainability and disaster risks. Increasingly, the emphasis on minimizing energy consumption and promoting recycling forces cities to reuse places of elevated risk. Only very recently in modern urban planning are polluted and risky areas frequently selected for new development projects to reclaim the vast areas of existing brownfields in the name of sustainability. Integrating disaster risk reduction into a new economic and social context has thus become an extremely important part of contemporary urban design and planning for these reclaimed (bad) areas. The research concludes that urban and territorial design should and can integrate the inevitability of risk. This is necessary for developing approaches and strategies that offer some rethinking about “wicked” problems, long-term time horizons, radical imagination, dynamic representations, and minute territorial readings in contemporary urban planning.


Bordeaux risk and sustainability urban and territorial design urban development scenario construction Venice water management 


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© The Author(s) 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of UrbanismUniversity IUAV of Venice (Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia)VeniceItaly

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