PhD programmes - Science and Technology
Home > On water. Designing climate-responsive landscape and infrastructure

On water. Designing climate-responsive landscape and infrastructure


Sara Favargiotti (Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture - DICAM) - sara.favargiotti [at]
Giuseppe Formetta (Associate Professor of Water Infrastructure - DICAM) giuseppe.formetta [at]
Lorenzo Giovannini (Associate Professor of Atmospheric Physics - DICAM) - lorenzo.giovannini [at]
Alessandra Marzadri (Associate Professor of Water Infrastructure - DICAM) - alessandra.marzadri [at]

Timetable: 4-15 September 2023 (approximately 3 days per week with in presence and hybrid format)

In recent decades, the uncontrolled growth of urban areas and the soil sealing have brought to light the need to change direction with new development paradigms for cities and territories in order to allow them to continue developing without losing existing ecosystems (Dramstad et al., 1996, Munafò, 2020; European Union, 2012). These phenomena are further aggravated because of their concomitance with the effects associated with climate change, with the consequent increase in frequency and magnitude of heat waves, drought and flooding periods. Therefore, a careful planning of water management, habitat conservation and ecological reconnection is essential in order to change direction.
The most densely populated areas (i.e. urban and peri-urban areas), because of their concentration of people and infrastructures, are hotspots of vulnerability to multiple hazards. Previous research showed the inability of classical approaches (i.e. gray infrastructures such as storage, first-flush and detention tanks) to reduce the risk associated with urban flooding and pollution, especially when the effects are accentuated by global warming (i.e. extreme events). One of the big challenges in the future of these areas is the capability to reduce their pollution and disaster risk by proposing suitable strategies to adapt to climate change. So far, most efforts have focused on mitigation strategies primarily aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (especially carbon dioxide, CO2) and implement “Green and Blue Infrastructures” to enhance the sustainability and the resilience of urban areas and communities. Recent studies underlined the complexity of the problem by proposing “hybrid approaches” that combine gray, green and blue infrastructure to shed light on available sustainable adaptation opportunities. 
Thus, within an interdisciplinary approach and transcalar perspective, the doctoral course aims at training PhD students to understand, quantify, model and design suitable hybrid systems able to integrate the built heritage with tailored nature-based solutions (NBSs) in order to mitigate and adapt the environment to the extreme events (e.g. rainfall, drought and heat waves) and pollution scenarios associated to climate change. Operatively, the course will explore 4 main topics: 1) meteorological processes and mechanisms responsible for the generation of the urban heat island; 2) hydrological processes (e.g. extreme rainfall/discharge events) and flow-paths that control urban flooding and pollution at different spatial and temporal scales (in different climate conditions and natural hazards);  3) capability of NBSs (gray-green and blue infrastructures) to mitigate the effects of urban flooding,  first-flush pollution and urban heat island 4) landscape as design agent for an integrated climate-responsive approach.
At the end of the course, the participants will be aware of the most innovative, interdisciplinary strategies for urban planning, integrating the aspects of meteorology, territorial risk and resilience, biodiversity conservation, ecological connectivity with aspects related to the quantity and the quality of the water resource.
Specialists in the related fields might occasionally be invited as guest critics to support and enhance the collective discussion. During the course the participants will be actively involved into different exercises according to the theme of the day. The course will be closed by a PhD international colloquium with the presentation of the final contributions from the team-work exercises proposed in the course and with the participation of a panel of guest critics. The course is specifically designed to address multiple disciplines and enrollment is encouraged for students from the fields of landscape architecture, architecture, urban planning and design, ecological design, as well students from environmental sciences, hydrological engineering interested in the long-term management and design of built environments or territories, but it is also opened to other disciplines. A good spatial design expertise and knowledge of GIS techniques (e.g. GRASS and QGIS) is required. The extreme events statistical analysis and the hydrological/hydraulic modeling carried out in the course will be based on the latest version of well-known open-source softwares (i.e. R-cran, EPA-SWMM).
Researchers and students (doctoral and post-docs) who are interested in participating in the course have to write an email to alessandra.marzadri [at] by July 31, 2023. Admission will be also accepted later but before the beginning of the course in August 2023.

Duration: 32 hours (4 credits)