Urban Planning for Growing Cities CoverUN-Habitat has identified 5 strategies that can enable cities to expand their urban space in an efficient and organised way, in accordance with their differing capacities and needs. These strategies address the tendency to decreasing densities and provide solutions for different economic groups.

Five Guided Urban Expansion Strategies

  • Planned City Extension
  • Planned City Infill
  • Connectivity and Public Spaces
  • City Region Planning and Poles Development
  • New Towns

Additionally, the discussion note outlines UN-Habitat’s planning services to guide urban growth.

Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: September 2014
Publication type: Discussion note – Urban Planning for Growing Cities (PDF)
Pages: 8


Roxas City, September 23 2014 — In its campaign for sustainable self-recovery among vulnerable populations that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines), UN-Habitat has conducted a series of trainings on disaster-resilient shelter construction for craftsmen in Roxas City and the municipalities of Panay and Pontevedra in Capiz Province. The activity is part of the capacity-building component of the Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project.


New Ball Game

Held at Barangay Milibili, Roxas City, each training course ran for three days and consisted of a string of lectures punctuated by practical exercises that effectively enabled the participants—carpenters and masons—to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Following the module piloted in February 2014, the training covered the following: disaster risk reduction (DRR) concepts and mitigation measures; the use of timber, bamboo, and reinforced concrete; and the preparation of reinforced concrete works. The participants—most of whom were accustomed to traditional construction methods—were also taught a critical yet often overlooked skill: reading structural plans. What used to be rudimentary to the trainees became a seemingly whole new ball game as they performed exercises on mixing and applying concrete, and setting up reinforced concrete parts and concrete hollow block walls; however this time, they operate not only per experience but in theory as well. Much emphasis was given on the quality of workmanship and adherence to build-back-safer strategies.

DSC_4348 (Small)Leading the training was UN-Habitat Shelter and DRR Expert Nikolaus Hartz who was particularly impressed with the craftsmen’s enthusiasm and performance, especially during the exercises and written exam. Even more remarkable was how the students became teachers themselves as they also imparted knowledge they acquired over the years in construction work. As an income-earning opportunity, the training came with daily allowances for the participants who were mostly heads of their respective households.


Empowering Asset

The scale of the devastation spawned by Yolanda left hundreds of thousands ill-equipped to rehabilitate their homes. Many were forced to move on with only the broken pieces of what used to be their house and the uncertainty of a future marked by climatic threats. The Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project seeks to address the shelter needs of Yolanda-affected families in the Social Housing Finance Corporation communities of Capiz and Iloilo, particularly in the municipalities of Estancia, Panay, and Pontevedra and in Roxas City. With the technical assistance of UN-Habitat, the 610 corehouses to be constructed under the Japan-funded project will be the very handiwork of the trained artisans who are no doubt an empowering asset to their communities and society in general.

Spatial planning hierarchiesThis fact sheet compares different policies regarding conceptual and strategic plans, physical plans  and norms/instruments used by nine countries.

Comparisons are made at the national level, subnational level, inter-city level, city level, urban/district level and neighbourhood level

Countries included in the hierarchy are:

  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Mozambique
  • Philippines
  • Rwanda
  • Catalonia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands

Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: September 2014
Publication type: Spatial Planning Hierarchies (PDF)
Pages: 9

Rapid Calculation CoverThe amount of land needed for an urban extension depends on several variables including annual population growth rate, the density (or maximum buildability) which will be achieved, the size of family and the size of average dwelling. The method to calculate such land needs is presented below as a tool to dimension expansion areas and discuss density options. The inputs for such calculation will vary from city to city and will have to be determined locally.

Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: September 2014
Publication type: Rapid Calculation and Planning Parameters Tool (PDF)
Pages: 4


Sectoral members of the Guiuan Recovery and Sustainable Development Group (GRSDG) review their outputs on the VAA, considering the updated hazard maps after super typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines). Photo: UN-Habitat/P.Mejillano.


Manila, September 8 2014 — UN-Habitat’s Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (VAA) is being adopted by Tacloban City and the municipality of Guiuan as a methodology to structure the Climate and Disaster Risk Assessments (CDRA) which is a requirement for mainstreaming climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR) in land use planning.

Under the newly released supplemental guideline of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), the CDRA is an integral part of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that will ensure coverage and extensive analysis of spatial and sectoral developments addressing current and future risks and vulnerabilities of the LGU through risk sensitive zoning.


The HLURB regional officer discussing the 12 steps of mainstreaming climate change and DRR into land use planning. Photo: UN-Habitat/L.Pelingon

Priscella Mejllano, CCCI National Coordinator, explains how the VAA can enhance the land use planning process. Photo: UN-Habitat/L.Pelingon.

Priscella Mejllano, CCCI National Coordinator, explains how the VAA can enhance the land use planning process. Photo: UN-Habitat/L.Pelingon.

Meanwhile, UN-Habitat also supported the Guiuan Recovery for Sustainable Development Group (GRSDG) last August 21 in updating their initial VAA to lead into preparing their CDRA. Considering Guiuan’s location in the province of Eastern Samar, and as a result of the initial VAA, Guiuan’s development are challenged with eight (8) hydromet and geologic hazards, such as flooding, storm surge, strong winds, increasing temperature in summer, increasing rainfall days in wet months, liquefaction, ground shaking, and tsunami.

In an orientation conducted by HLURB and fully supported by UN-Habitat last August 11 and 12, the Tacloban Recovery for Sustainable Group (TRSDG) expressed the need to pursue the initial work of UN-Habitat on the VAA and use such methodology in preparing the CDRA as basis for mainstreaming climate and disaster resilience into its CLUP. The work of UN-Habitat will cover technical assistance to Tacloban in collecting and analyzing climate and hazard information, scoping the potential impacts of disasters and climate change and organization of exposure database development and CCVA summary.

Laids Cea, CCCI Regional Coordinator, explains the convergence of climate change and DRR. Photo: UN-Habitat/P.Mejillano.

Laids Cea, CCCI Regional Coordinator, explains the convergence of climate change and DRR. Photo: UN-Habitat/P.Mejillano.

The Cities and Climate Change Initiative in Philippines, a UN-Habitat programme that supports local governments to more readily respond to the climatic threats, intends to enhance the planning process of Guiuan by plugging in the VAA to determine the extent of the municipality’s exposure to climate change and disasters, to determine sensitivities of the sectors, and to clearly define the municipality’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

In both LGUs, UN-Habitat support on data collection and analysis of potential impacts of disasters will be done through “learning by doing” and in-city coaching and mentoring. The outputs will be dovetailed by the city with the support of UNDP and the Climate Change Commission in processing the CDRA into full-blown CLUPs.


Strategy of neighborhood planning CoverIn recent decades, the landscape of cities has changed significantly because of rapid urban population growth. A major feature of fast growing cities is urban sprawl, which drives the occupation of large areas of land and is usually accompanied by many serious problems including inefficient land use, high car dependency, low density and high segregation of uses. Coupled with land use speculation, current models of city growth result in fragmented and inefficient urban space where urban advantage and city concept are lost.

Cities of the future should build a different type of urban structure and space, where city life thrives and the most common problems of current urbanization are addressed. UN-Habitat proposes an approach that summarizes and refines existing sustainable urban planning theories to help build a new and sustainable relationship between urban dwellers and urban space, and to increase the value of urban land. This approach is based on 5 principles that support the 3 key features of sustainable neighbourhoods and cities: compact, integrated, connected.

Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: September 2014
Publication type: Discussion note – A new strategy of sustainable neighbourhood planning (PDF)
Pages: 8

Urban Typologies CoverThis tool showcases 12 basic urban typologies of residential and mixed areas. Building types, plot sizes, public space and street-scape ranging from low to high urban densities are being displayed. The selected 12 typologies have been chosen to be easily distinguishable from one another but at the same time frequently appearing in different parts of the world. Each type is illustrated by orthophotos and street views of real world examples. Demographic figures and indicators from urban planning give an assessment of the typologies and allow for comparisons.

Through the combination of a quantitative assessment and qualitative descriptions and examples, the relation of residential developments to their urban environment is being described and evaluated. The tool helps to understand intertwined urban factors on an urban neighborhood scale like FAR in relation to plot size or value of public space. Selected examples from western countries as well as from the global south ensure a diversified approach to the topic.

Published by: UN-Habitat Headquarters
Date published: September 2014
Publication type: Planning tool – Urban Typologies (PDF)
Pages: 15