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Resilience in Latin American cities: behaviour vs. space quality in the riverbanks of the Tomebamba River

Artículo publicado en la revista Procedia Engineering, 198, 467-481. URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705817329478

Abstract: Design and city planning should integrate the treatment of rivers and riverbanks as main elements of the green network and the resilience of cities. It is urgent to understand not only their role in the generation of urban biodiversity and their potential as green corridors but also as a public space layer that strengthens the public dimension of the city. It is essential to know the type of activities and behaviour on the riverbanks so as to meet the needs of the population and create urban identities. However, there is relatively little knowledge about the use and preferences of green spaces in developing countries. New techniques that offer more reliable ways of predicting and understanding the use of the space can be valuable tools for designing resilient cities. The proposed methodology aims to generate a spatially explicit empirical basis about the behaviour of the population in different areas of the Tomebamba River in Cuenca-Ecuador -based on systematic observation, behaviour mapping using mobile data collection and spatial analysis techniques-, seeking for correlations with the connectivity, the spatial quality and the physical characteristics of the riverbanks. The results show differences in the spaces men and women use, and the type of activities for each group, especially near peri-urban areas where spatial quality is lower. There is a bigger difference in age groups more pronounced in areas lacking infrastructure and those with access barriers. Significant differences where observed in types of activities related to the characteristics and quality of the surrounding built environment and to the connectivity of the riverbanks. Building the empirical evidence in a spatially explicit way will provide the knowledge base needed for urban designers and policy-makers, in Latin American contexts, so as to build open space systems that integrate natural resources and at the same time promote social resilience.

Keywords: Resilient Cities, Social Interaction, Urban Green Space, Urban Waterfonts.