Quality of the build environment: Appraisal problems of the influence of the development plans on the quality within an urban environment

Zuzana Aufrichtová, Július Hanus


Build environment is a complex, large and dynamic system. Searching for its development strategies which would be sustainable, both from the point of view of human inhabitants as well as of biodiversity; it requires interdisciplinary approach supported by simulation, assessment and decision-making methods that allow for prediction of the effects of investment activities within the territory with an acceptable level of verisimilitude, thus creating the basis for    the territorial decision-making.

The assessment of build environment is a complex and relevant issue. The assessment indicators of build environment will include measurable inputs, norms, standards, proportions, energy demands, as well as a set of social criteria which encompass social needs of the inhabitants, their culture, habits and living standards.

These criteria are reflected in decisive policies and strategies of the EU – in the Europe 2020 document, which includes information on the sustainable development, on a research support and a social cohesion as one of the main goals of the EU for the upcoming planning period. Although the main part of sustainable development of settlements is still in the working, its character has been shaped by the demands of developed society. Ever greater attention is placed upon increasing the quality of operations and maintenance of the existing structures and increasing their build environment quality through partial intervention instead of massive reconstruction.

Urbanism in Slovakia is currently undergoing a paradigmatic shift due to increased importance of sustainable development of the build environment. This is influenced by parameters and indicators of spatial, social and ecological qualities, which need to be specified and simulated through modern technologies during the planning and assessment of qualities of settlement structures. A new legislation, which is currently being prepared, requires the municipalities to continuously monitor the quality of the build environment. The research has an ambition to define the build environment not only through verbal description, which is a subject to individual interpretation, but also through a set of indicators which will come with defined acceptable values and limits. The current methods of urban planning organize a given territory into functional spaces (residential area, industrial zone, services etc.). Such approach is currently challenged as it is unable to provide sufficient quality of build environment through a functional definition alone. The proposed approach to urban planning is built upon a set of criteria to be fulfilled in order to achieve sustainable environment, ethics, and social aspects, and so on, with an aim to ensure the quality of the build environment for its users.

Keywords: research, urban design, city, evaluation, quality, settlement space