REsource management in Peri-urban AReas: Going Beyond Urban Metabolism

REPAiR applies a geodesign approach including waste and resource management in order to reveal the local space-specific challenges of waste and resource management using life cycle analyses (LCA) and Urban Metabolism. The core objective is to provide local and regional authorities with an innovative geodesign decision support environment (GDSE) that will be used to create integrated, place-based eco-innovative spatial development strategies promoting the use of waste as a resource. The strategies produced using GDSE will support the ongoing initiatives of the European Commission towards establishing a strong circular economy (CE) in Europe.

The four main research activities are: developing and implementing territorial metabolism models (WP 3), evaluation and impact models (WP 4), decision models (WP 6) and develop a knowledge transfer methodology (WP 7). Moreover, open dissemination of insights, tools, and technologies is provided across Europe (WP8, WP2).

Urban Metabolism Approach
The project integrates life cycle thinking and geodesign to operationalize urban metabolism (UM). The UM concept is a framework for modeling complex urban systems’ material and energy streams as if the city were an ecosystem. UM describes the continuous flows of energy, resources, waste, information, and people into, out of, and within any given metropolitan area. It considers the area as interacting subsystems, permanently adapting to political, economic and natural environments.

REPAiR builds on the extended UM approaches, in which urban subsystems with their environmental and spatial impacts are addressed more explicitly. REPAiR also builds upon the notion of synergism in UM studies, focusing on the benefits of the intrinsic relationships existing within the urban metabolic system.

Waste as Resource
REPAiR’s understanding of UM facilitates the shift to seeing waste as a resource while determining the implications of this shift and exploring ways to tackle it. Therefore, REPAiR does not focus on ‘end-of-pipe’ potential alone, but traces waste flows back to resource consumption patterns. This is essential for two reasons:
• the role of consumption behavior in sustainable urban development is still insufficiently studied;
• this approach enables estimating the best possible change routes towards a circular economy.

REPAiR addresses five preliminary flow categories: construction & demolition waste, biowaste, post-consumer plastic waste, electrical waste and electronic equipment, and municipal solid waste. Along the project’s trajectory, other flows may emerge as priorities in each case study area, such as post-industrial waste or medical waste.

Trans-disciplinary considerations
The geodesign approach and the project are by definition transdisciplinary. REPAiR uses two key strategies to achieve a successful transdisciplinary working environment. The first six months of the project were allocated to developing a shared understanding of key concepts and methods used to develop the GDSE. Specific deliverables are a joint vision of the GDSE and methodological handbooks. Second,

The advances of geodesign compared to older landscape and environmental planning approaches are threefold. It allows for:
• an extensive use of digital data in design, evaluation, and communication;
• gives a prominent role to design, by developing spatial solutions to specific place-based (genius loci) problems;
• its transdisciplinary nature calls for collaboration.

GDSE development

Figure 1. The five modules of the GDSE

Technological innovation at REPAiR is mainly in the area of software development for the GDSE. For the software development, REPAiR will follow an iterative and interactive process in which problem formulations and solutions evolve together through a collaboration between the different partners, members of the user board, as well as students of the involved faculties. The process will be based on rapid development of prototypes in parallel with pilot tests (for verification & validation), to allow continuous improvement and adaptation with the evolving formulations of the problems and solutions.
The GDSE is built of five modules: data management (DBM), dialogue management (DM), model management (MM), knowledge management (KM), and stakeholder management (SM.). Software, hardware, and process-ware have to be developed, tested and implemented (Figure 1).

Peri Urban Living Labs (PULLs)
REPAiR organizes peri-urban living labs, where key actors, representatives of regions, municipalities, corporations, individuals, design professionals, information technologists, scientists and students collaboratively generate new ideas and strategies for the development of CE.

The main aim of the PULLs is to develop strategies for a more circular economy by first generating input for the development of the six models that build the GDSE as well as test the environment of the GDSE itself. The PULLs are the main place and time of transdisciplinary integration within REPAiR – activities of ongoing teaching activities at the participating universities and AMS with research conducted in the WPs by consortium partners.
PULLs integrates the research and teaching activities related to REPAiR with the activities of local consortium partners. In situ development of strategies for a circular economy (CE) within multidisciplinary teams will enforce the transdisciplinary collaboration. The different workshops and other interactive and participatory events of all WPs will be integrated into time and place during the PULLs. REPAiR will conduct two different kinds of PULLs: for the pilot studies and the follow-up studies.

Case studies
The choice of study areas is diverse enough to be representative for most European countries but also is able to test and validate whether the GDSE is flexible enough to be transferable to other contexts, and to detect limits of transferability. Three of the cases are characterised by high recycling rates and low rates of landfilling: Amsterdam (NL), Ghent (BE) and Hamburg (D). The key challenge there is developing a circular economy instead of incinerating waste or exporting it. The other 3 cases, Łódź (PL), Naples (I) and Pécs (H), with lower recycling rates and higher rates of landfills, face parallel challenges of increasing recycling rates and reducing illegal dumping on the way to a CE.

The wide array of characteristics within this set of cases makes them representative for many other European metropolitan regions.

Figure 2. Case studies within the REPAiR project

Project duration September 2016 – August 2020

A consortium of the REPAiR project consists of 18 partners from 6 countries as listed below:
1) Delft University of Technology (TUD)
2) Ghent University
3) University of Naples Federico II
4) HafenCity University
5) Institute for Regional Studies HAS
6) Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS
7) Joint Research Centre
8) Geo-Col GIS and Collaborative Planning
9) Delta Development Group
10) BIOKOM Nonprofit Ltd
11) Gertz Gutsche Rümenapp Stadtentwicklung und Mobilität GbR
12) OVAM – Public Waste Agency of Flanders
13) Municipality of Haarlemmermeer
14) Campania Regional Authority
15) Pheno Horizon
16) Bauer Umwelt GmbH
17) Ivago
18) Stadtreinigung Hamburg

Project leader
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Principle Investigator A. van Timmeren
Professor of Environmental Technology & Design – Department of Urbanism

Scientific Coordinator of REPAiR Alexander Wandl

Related information For further information please visit the project website:

Contact person Alexander Wandl