Sustainable City 2014

9th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability


23 - 25 September 2014
Siena, Italy


Sustainable City 2014

The 9th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability took place in the Certosa di Pontignano, organised by the University of Siena and the Wessex Institute of Technology.

The meeting has a long and distinguished history, having started in Rio de Janeiro in 2000, followed by a series of very successful meetings in Segovia (2002); Siena (2004); Tallinn (2006); Skiathos (2008); A Coruña (2010); Ancona (2012) and Kuala Lumpur (2013).

The meeting is closely associated with the Prigogine Medal and the work of the Ecodynamics Group at the University of Siena.  The work of the Group originated with the research of the late eminent scientist Enzo Tiezzi, who clearly set their objectives and highlighted the difference between development and growth.  Growth pressures a continuous supply of mass and energy that cannot last forever.  Growth based on historical resources is neither sustainable nor enduring.  On the contrary, a dynamic development that maximises energy, reduces or excludes wastefulness and relies on renewable resources, supplied through advanced systems and innovative technologies, can fuel a prosperous economy and guarantee widespread, long lasting well-being.

The Sustainable City is not full of new buildings, but rather the same city of the past, repaired, renovated and modified in order to make it as fully today as it was in the past.  When considering historical centres and, above all, areas of urban expansion and suburbs, the focus of adaptation is increasingly necessary and desirable, especially from the new prospects of having to limit our dependency on non-renewable energy sources.  In this sense, the search for more sustainable cities is the premise that should inspire research, policies and the building industry in the future.

This line of reasoning has been expressed in the lands of Siena, where the commitment to the environment has long been a common shared good.  Such initiatives with the city and provinces have supported the idea of holding the 9th International Conference on the Sustainable City in Siena, whose territory reached an equal balance between academia carbon emissions and absorption as early as 2011.

The Conference sessions took place in La Certosa di Pontignano, an old monastery belonging to the University of Siena and now converted into a conference centre. It was founded in the 1300s by the Carthusian Order.  It is still an oasis of peace, most appropriate for research meetings presented near Siena while being in the open countryside, and offers unique views of its surroundings. Vineyards and olive groves surround La Certosa.

The complex has two beautiful cloisters and a series of cells, rooms and facilities around them.  In spite of the many changes that the buildings undertook over the years, the complex is harmonious and its architecture blends with the surrounding landscape.

The quiet environs and the ample facilities contributed to increased contacts amongst the delegates, outside the conference sessions.  They were offered lunches, as well as refreshment breaks and a conference dinner was arranged in the unusual setting of one of the contradas of Siena.

The success of the conference resulted in a substantial number of papers which were published in two volumes of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, Volume 191, which are distributed around the world in hard copy and digital format.  The papers are permanently archived in the WIT eLibrary ( 

 Prigogine Award Ceremony

The conference was opened by the University Authorities in their Aula Magna, with a special ceremony to award the 2014 Prigogine Gold Medal.

The Academic procession comprising members of the University and some of the senior members of the International Scientific Advisory Committee entered the Aula Magna, followed by the Vice Rector, Professor Francesco Frati and the Director of the Wessex Institute of Technology, Professor Carlos A Brebbia.

Professor Frati declared the proceedings open and described the importance of the event, welcoming the delegates in the name of the University of Siena.  The Prigogine Medal was established by the University and the Wessex Institute of Technology to honour the memory of Professor Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize Winner of Chemistry.  He was a mentor of the work carried out in the Ecodynamics Group and Honorary Co-Chair of the Conference on Ecological Systems and Sustainable Development, organised by both institutions.

Prof Brebbia then referred to the importance of Prof Prigogine’s work.  Born in Moscow in 1917, Ilya Prigogine obtained his undergraduate and graduate education in Chemistry at the Free University of Brussels.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures.  The main theme of his scientific work was the role of time in the physical sciences and biology.  Prigogine contributed significantly to the understanding of irreversible processes, particularly in systems far from equilibrium.  The results of his work have had profound consequences for understanding biological and ecological systems.

Prigogine’s idea established the basis for ecological systems research.  The Prigogine Medal – Carlos said – to honour his memory, is awarded annually to a leading scientist in the field of ecological systems.  All recipients have been deeply influenced by the work of Prigogine.

Previous Prigogine Laureates were:

  • 2004       Sven Jorgenson, Denmark
  • 2005       Enzo Tiezzi, Italy
  • 2006       Bernard Patten, USA
  • 2007       Robert Ulanowicz, USA
  • 2008       Ioannis Antoniou, Greece
  • 2009       Emilio Del Giudice, Italy
  • 2010       Felix Müller, Germany
  • 2011       Larissa Brizhik, Ukraine
  • 2012       Gerald Pollack, USA
  • 2013       Vladimir Voeikov, Russia

Prof Simone Bastianoni, from the Ecodynamics Group at the University of Siena, commented on the personality of the late Enzo Tiezzi (Prigogine 2005).  He expressed how difficult it was to accept that Enzo was no longer with us, so strong was his influence for the Science Group.

Enzo was a renaissance man, building bridges across different disciplines, his work continuously evolving, from chemical processes to biology, ecosystems and many human endeavours.

Enzo did not believe in the idea of becoming overspecialised in a very minor narrow field.  He thought that it was always important to understand the whole, to see the forest, rather than focus all our energies in researching only one particular tree.

The 2014 Medal has been awarded to Prof Mae-Wan Ho, founding Director of The Institute of Science in Society.

Prof Brebbia explained that the Dr Ho’s work provides information about biotechnological issues as well as sustainability, climate change and, in particular, the nature of water.

Prof Ho received a PhD in Biochemistry from Hong Kong University.  She was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Biochemical Genetics at the University of California, San Diego; Senior Research Fellow at Queen Elizabeth College; Lecturer in Genetics and Reader in Biology at the Open University, UK.

Prof Ho is the author of several books and Editor of Science in Society, produced by her Institute.  She is a prolific author.  Two of her books are prominent in explaining the role of biological water in organising living processes.  She has been extremely productive with nearly 200 scientific papers, over 600 popular articles and several more books.

Moreover, she has written a book showing the lack of sustainability of genetically modified organisms.  She has also contributed significantly to the thermodynamics of complex systems, and has discussed extensively the Prigogine ideas.  A recent article of hers discusses what should be a reliable thermodynamics of living organisms, developing a Prigogine’s approach.

Following the introduction, Prof Ho was given the Medal by Prof Nadia Marchettini, widow of the late Enzo Tiezzi (Prigogine Medal 2005).

Upon receipt of the award, Prof Ho started her Special Prigogine Lecture on ‘Sustainable Cities: A New Perspective’.  She demonstrated that the circular thermodynamics based on dynamic closeness in natural space-time dimensions enable organisms to approach zero entropy production simultaneously at equilibrium and far from equilibrium conditions.  It confirms and extends Ilya Prigogine’s Principle of Minimum Entropy Production for living systems and has implications for sustainable cities and other built environments, as well as ecosystems and economic systems.

Dr Ho referred to the importance of fractals and their role in providing optimum energy consumption configurations.

This led to a discussion of why large systems are inefficient and the advantages of arranging for local energy generation and storage facilities using renewable resources, minimising emissions and CO2 generation.  This can be done by recycling the waste, and redefining urban spaces at human scale.  The modern trend is towards a more compact city, creating new spaces.

 Conference Sessions

The presentations were grouped in the following sessions:

  • Urban strategies
  • Spatial conflicts in the city. (Special session organised by R Barelkowski)
  • Environmental management
  • Infrastructure and society
  • Transportation
  • Waste management
  • Planning, development and management
  • Urban air pollution (Special session organised by E Rada)
  • The community and the city
  • Urban conservation and regeneration
  • Urban metabolism
  • The S3 city: smart, sustainable and safe. (Special session organised by R Fistola)
  • Quality of life
  • Sustainable energy and the city
  • Eco-town planning
  • Flood risk
  • Architectural issues
  • Recent advances on urban transportation planning (Special session organised by F Russo)
  • Case studies

 Invited Presentations

The meeting was enhanced by a series of invited presentations given by well know colleagues:

  • “Istanbul’s single truth: a sustainable policy and a sustainable capital”, by Sirma Turgut, Yildiz Technical University, Turkey.
  • “Strategies for the identity of sustainable suburbs”, by Robert Barelkowski, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.
  • “Accommodating the cyclist in the city”, by Andrew Furman, Ryerson University, Canada.
  • “Artificial surfing reefs in the Mediterranean Sea: an integrated solution for the erosion of the shoreline in Bahía Norte, Alicante”, by Yolande Villacampa, University of Alicante, Spain.
  • “Qualitative assessment of the Mexicali Valley Landscape: residents and non-residents”, by Rosa Rojas-Caldelas, University of Baja California, Mexico.
  • “The sustainable city and air pollution”, by Elena Rada, University of Trento, Italy.
  • “Pathways to an oil-constrained sustainable city”, by Roger Brewster, Bond University, Australia.
  • “The Sustainable City and the Smart City: measuring urban entropy first”, by Romano Fistola, University of Sannio, Italy.
  • “Novel solutions to a traditional method of property-level flood protection: technical insights into innovative door aperture guards”, by Colin Booth, University of the West of England, United Kingdom.
  • “A comprehensive lifecycle evaluation of vertical greenery systems based on systemic indicators”, by Riccardo Pulselli, University of Siena, Italy.
  • “The process of smart city definition at an EU level”, by Francesco Russo, University of Russo Calabria, Italy.

 ISAC and Conference Dinners

The conference International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC)  met over dinner to discuss the meeting and way in which it can be improved when it is reconvened in 2016.  The members discussed a series of new topics to allow the conference to evolve and respond to new ideas and demands. A series of new members of the committee were nominated so that their names can add to the prestige of the conference and be able to review papers.  Finally, the members discussed the offers received regarding possible venues for 2016, which will be investigated by the WIT conference department.

The Conference dinner took place in the unusual setting of one of the famous contradas of Siena.  A contrada is the name given to a part of town, each of which has the right of having a horse racing for them in Il Palio, the race taking place around the Piazza del Campo.

The contrada is the centre of the social life of this particular part of town, and although opened to all classes it is in practice a highly exclusive club to which one can only belong if born in that part of town.

The contrada contributes to the strong community sense of Siena, a town renowned for its sustainability record and low carbon footprint.  To serve in the contrada cities is an obligation and an honour, to which the community contributes on a voluntary basis.

The banquet was preceded by a visit to the Museum of the Contrada dell’Aquila, which contains the Palii (or banners) they won over the years and other historical memorabilia.  Next door to the Museum a small chapel is used for the ceremony of blessing the horse and jockey before the race takes place.

The dinner consisted of appetizers, followed by two first courses of rice and pasta, and a main course of roasted veal, everything prepared in the Tuscan way.  The food was accompanied by excellent Chianti wines.

The whole evening was most enjoyable and gave the delegates the chance to see a part of Siena life which is not open to most visitors.  The invitation to the Contrada was the result of the academic contacts WIT has built with Siena, over many years of collaboration.

The conference was closed by Carlos Brebbia who thanked the delegates for their participation and hoped to see them again when the meeting is reconvened.

 Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of Sustainable City 2014 – The Sustainable City IX, 1766pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-820-6; eISBN: 978-1-84564-821-3) are available from WIT Press. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 191 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1746-448X, Digital ISSN 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at

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 Siena Conference Photos