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Residential densification policies are now part of a range of solutions wielded by public authorities to contribute to sustainable urban development. Although the economic and environmental aspects of these measures have been relatively well studied, there has been little analysis of the social dimension of these policies. The purpose of this article is to discuss the socio-spatial implications of densification measures through an urban political ecology approach, which seeks to critically examine the weights of the different principles of  sustainability partially and selectively affecting urbanized areas and their inhabitants. This discussion is based on the analysis of differentiated residential densification polices being put in place in suburban municipalities in the Paris City region in France and in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada.


The contemporary debates on urban densification, the residential attractiveness of city centres and the fight against urban sprawl, the objectives being a matter of broad political consensus, usually remain little related to any questioning of the social content of the processes at work in the territories concerned. There is however food for thought here since numerous studies have raised the topicality of the gentrification process of certain popular central residential districts as well as the relegation of precarious populations towards other districts, in city centres or peripheries.


Resulting from a CPDT Wallonia research project on the densification of the Walloon urbanized fabrics, this article presents a typology of those fabrics. The development of this typology is the fruit of an experimental method of systematic morphological identification. The information that has been used comes from IT databases and is easy to handle in conjunction with a GeographicalInformation System ( GIS ). The resulting modeling, tested on the Commune of Ath, allows fast chrono-typological classification, roll-out of the method to the whole of Wallonia and comparisons and cross-references with other mapped data.

This approach is oriented towards the question of residential densities but could be adapted to other types of spatial analyses.



The increasing importance of biomass energy in Wallonia has led the author of the article and the ensuing research to estimate, as a first stage, at the regional and municipal levels, the gross natural energy potential of three sources of biomass that have an impact on the non-built space and the regional planning: energy crops (or cultivated biomass), livestock manure and wood energy.

Analysis of these potentials makes it possible both to describe the particularities of their spatial distribution on the Walloon territory and to distinguish the factors that influence that distribution. As a second stage, the author offers several original scenarii – these also resulting from the study in question – of biomass energy development in the agricultural space, on the basis of factors identified in the first part. The results are compared with the European objectives and with those of the PMDE3.


In 2009, the Walloon Region has commanded a study of Cushman & Wakefield to qualify the potential of European regions for hosting logistics and distribution activities. The report ranks the Walloon Region and its provinces at the top spots. It poses many methodological problems which challenge the validity of results. This statement is an illustrated introduction to a wider questioning of  territorial ranking and benchmarking studies conducted or funded by public authorities. Their history, their ideological background and their impact on public policy are discussed in detail.