The American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Communities Division has selected the Master’s Thesis work researched by Andrea Maria Jandricek at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Architecture as this year’s First Place winner of the Emerging Leader Award 2015 in the national “Excellence in Sustainability” competition. The work, entitled Urban and Economic Transformations (Yellowfield) Case Studies: Astoria, New York and Donja Dubrava, Zagreb examines how a Land Readjustment (LR) model could be applied within a market driven framework on a larger geographic scale to physically reconstruct areas of suburban sprawl or low density unplanned development into more compact and vibrant areas of a city.
With nearly 70% of the world’s population projected to live in cities by 2050 according to the UN[i], the model suggests a more cohesive physical transformation of low density areas that surround the urban core in a series of predefined phases. Local stakeholders including residents and developers are united in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that rewards each member according to contribution. A new Master Plan of the area is redesigned based on new economic activity, projected population densities and new parks and public infrastructure. The original low density urban fabric is incrementally replaced with a higher density, mixed development with an emphasis on increasing public space and enhancing existing infrastructure. Local residents receive new housing at no cost in addition to becoming long-term shareholders in the REIT based on the initial equity in their homes. The model has been referred to as Residential Consolidation or informally yellowfield, with yellow indicating areas of residential low density on urban maps.
The thesis examined two different neighborhoods and cultures: (1) Astoria, Queens in New York and (2) Donja Dubrava in Zagreb to illustrate how the model could address a range of issues in different urban environments. In Astoria, the case study created double the population density while increasing public space by 23% within a fixed urban space. In Dubrava, the emphasis was more on introducing new public transportation lines while also expanding public facilities and park areas. The model supports a range of sustainable planning and building practices including the recycling of original building material in the new development, the introduction of new community-wide green technologies and the enhancement of existing infrastructure.
The model becomes a way to develop a city in a more balanced fashion without gentrifying neighborhoods, but by financially rewarding the existing local population. It also shifts much of the focus of economic development from the urban core to more peripheral, but geographically important areas in a city. Combined with a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) approach, the model could significantly decrease car usage by creating mixed residential and commercial developments that are walkable.
The American Planning Association, Sustainable Communities Division evaluated entries based on originality and innovation; compatibility with other planning initiatives; effectiveness and results; community engagement and transferability. Mentors and Economic Advisors for the thesis included: Main Advisors (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Architecture) Prof. Nenad Lipovac and Prof. Ljubomir Miščević; Economic Advisors (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics and Business) Prof. Ljubo Jurčić and Prof. Josip Tica; Independent Advisor, Prof. Emeritus Gary Hack (MIT and University of Pennsylvania), Prof. Yu-Hung Hong (MIT), Nicholas Frankopan (Oak Advisors, London, UK), Ohene Aku Kwapong (Park Street Advisors, London, UK) and Paul Suchar (KPMG in Croatia).