Ecosystemic Urbanism is a new approach to urban planning that takes into account the many restrictions (constraints and indicators) that urban development imposes on the environment. The degree of adjustment made to urban design, in favour of the environment, is reflected in each stage of urban planning. These environmentally conscious decisions will result in a more sustainable city in this information age.

The model of the sustainable city is characterized by its morphology and complexity. In this model, the city is concentrated in the core, with diverse forms of knowledge and technology, and maintains its existing urban metabolism and social cohesion.

Ecosystemic Urbanism applies the following principles to urban design:

  • 01. Proximity
  • 02. Critical mass of population and activity
  • 03. Citizen, not pedestrian
  • 04. Alternative transport
  • 05. High living standards in the public space
  • 06. Urban complexity
  • 07. Provision of green space and biodiversity
  • 08. Energy self-sufficiency
  • 09. Water self-sufficiency
  • 10. Self-sufficiency of materials
  • 11. Sensitivity to climate change (adaption and mitigation)
  • 12. Social cohesion
  • 13. Access to housing
  • 14. Provision of equipment
  • 15. Management and governance


Ecosystemic Urbanism has two main tools for the organization of the urban environment: the Superblock and urbanism on three levels.

The Superblock is a model for mobility, and is composed of a grid network of basic roads that form a polygon or inner area. This new urban cell has both an interior and exterior component. The interior (intervía), which encompasses several blocks, is closed to through vehicles and open mainly to pedestrian traffic. The speed limit is restricted to a maximum of 10 km/hr on the interior, enabling the public space to be safe and undisturbed. The exterior forms the basic road network on the periphery, and is approximately 400 x 400 metres for use by motorized vehicles.

Urbanism on three levels (elevated, on the ground and underground) is a new type of urbanism composed of three layers. This structure allows for the redistribution of urban functions (housing, services, water and waste management etc.) on three horizontal planes. This maximizes the ecological efficiency of the urban space, conserving and even contributing to biodiversity, the water cycle, and clean forms of energy.

The first level that is elevated above ground, is linked to dwellings, green roofs, water collection, as well as educational and health services. The ground level is occupied by services, and is linked to urban distribution, mass mobility of passengers, and the water cycle. Public car parks and public transportation will be contained underground, with links to the water table and thermal energy production.


Ecosystemic Urbanism seeks to overcome the restrictions of efficiency and habitability in the design of today's cities. These restrictors (green space, transportation etc.) must be considered in the development of a sustainable city in order to maximize the conservation of land and resources.

Habitability is a term that refers to the livability of an area. It is linked to the comfort and interaction among residents: social cohesion, biological diversity, quality of public space, housing, equipment, etc.


These principles are applied to Urban Ecology in the following way:

Urban uses: In order to promote Ecological Urbanism, it is necessary to reserve spaces for urban development on three levels of organization (underground, ground-level, and above ground). Ground-level urban planning will maximize land use for legal entities: economic activities, facilities, institutions and associations.

Mobility and Services Infrastructure: The inner road is intended for use by residential traffic, and is accessible to local residents as well as emergency vehicles, services and the delivery and distribution of goods. The speed of all vehicles is restricted to 10km/hr.

The Urban Metabolism: According to Ecosystemic Urbanism, the city will be carbon neutral and will maintain a high level of energy self-sufficiency. The city will also be self-sufficient with regard to water resources, even with the approaching scarcity of water due to climate change. The urban metabolism will also selectively collect and recycle organic materials to make compost.

Energy: BCNecologia has developed a new high efficiency thermal system, based on the transfer of surplus heat from the summer to winter months. This excess energy is stored in large deposits of underground water that through a heat pump, can provide up to 100% efficiency in air conditioning and hot water (ACS). This system is called  Sistema de Calefacción y Agua Caliente Sanitaria (SCACS) or the system of heating and hot water.

Green Spaces and Biodiversity: In Ecosystemic Urbanism, the management of urban green spaces provides a system that attracts birds, makes the city more receptive to the natural elements and provides residential green spaces.


BCNecologia has developed a certificate for urban planning, in which an urban development is measured against specific ecological and sustainable criteria. This certification evaluates the level of ecological urban planning implemented in a region, in relation to the sustainable city model.

Assessment Areas:

  • A1. Soil use
  • A2. Public space and livability
  • A3. Mobility and services
  • A4. Urban complexity
  • A5. Green spaces and biodiversity
  • A6. The urban metabolism
  • A7. Social cohesion

The indicators, 50 in total, are categorized into each of the above areas.


Ecosystemic Urbanism will have a unique form of management and governance. It incorporates, in relation to current urban planning, new targets that encourage us to reconsider new mechanisms of sustainability. The new form of governance requires citizen participation in planning, construction and use.


<<Ecosystemic Urbanism takes into account both urban development and design, and is influenced by restrictions within the urban environment (green space, transportation etc.). Ecosystemic Urbanism considers the characteristics of each urban system as well as their potential for sustainable and efficient living >>

Idea aplicada en: 

Figueres (Catalonia)