Linear infrastructures and rural spaces.Pressures, impacts, and a no-remedial design approaches



linear infrastructures, geographical readings, co-evolutive approach, landscape planning




Nowadays, transportation infrastructures (roads and railways) play a significant role in national economic development. Still, it is also one of the sectors that stress the socio-ecological systems of periurban and rural areas at the local scale. The design principles of major linear infrastructures often do not consider the impacts on ecosystems and social networks, and they prioritize the speed and economy of implementation, the efficiency in managing supra-local flows, and the activation of investment opportunities. In addition, their presence is a driver for new investments and urbanization, and low-density spaces become new operational landscapes (Brenner, 2016 and 2020), perpetrating an extractive approach that exacerbates the gaps between “urban” and “rural”. Those tensions produce a variety of resistances and answers by the public administrations and the local community because often infrastructures do not delve into the role of the landscape as a value system and their role as a socio-technical driver for innovation and development.

The territory merely became a space for 'landing' rather than an opportunity for interaction. In other words, there is currently no recognized model of integrated and holistic governance that leverages infrastructure planning for mobility as an opportunity for the sustainable development of territorial systems. There is a need for a cultural leap toward new ways of understanding the relationship between the form of settlements and the geology of nature. Steinberg’s ability to reconstruct the ecological history of urban evolution suggests the opportunity to return to representing territories through readings and descriptions. These descriptions emphasize the relationships between physical, geological, and social geographies with territorial systems. It will be a question of understanding the existing values and the historical relationships to support infrastructural projects oriented to local, endogenous a durable development.

Therefore, in infrastructural projects the landscape quality and the opportunities to become a driver for endogenous growth and sustainable development depend on the capacity of administrators, civil servants, practitioners, and activists to understand the real conditions of the design contexts, exceeding stereotyped readings, and cliches and their ability to set up new territorial representation able to support their action. Current practices are often based on standardized, sectoral approaches and/or administrative dimensions, simplifying the existing territorial relationships and proposing solutions based on delocalized “formulas”, are ineffective and unsustainable in the medium-long term (Paris and Dezio, 2024).

SEW Line is a recently launched PRIN research aiming to integrate biodiversity, ecosystem services, and natural capital into mobility infrastructure investments through a replicable, cross-scale holistic co-design model. The aim of the proposal, which develops a composite and highly interdisciplinary methodology, is to advance knowledge in the planning and design processes of mobility infrastructure in peri-urban and rural landscapes.

In our paper, we present the first stage of the research, based on geographical readings of the context of case studies developed by the team. This phase is an opportunity for the enhancement of endogenous resources with a view to a sustainable strengthening of the economic and social system of the territory to exceed the deterritorialization process. The approach adopted is co-evolutionary, which reads the dynamics between environmental and social systems. This co-evolutionary perspective leads to a review of entrepreneurial choices, market dynamics, interactions with the production structure, the economic system as a whole, and the processes of use of natural resources, intersected with the geomorphological, physical, and climatic dynamics, as a matrix for the structuring of the landscape

Changing the initial point of view, we suggested that the geographical descriptions became the basis for projects in which new and more articulated activities linked to contemporary forms of living, moving, consuming, and inhabiting the space will provide opportunities for endogenous development.

Author Biographies

  • Mario Paris, Università degli Studi di Bergamo


  • Catherine Dezio, Università degli Studi di Padova

    Land, Environment, Agriculture, and forestry Department (TESAF)


  • Silvia Marchesini, Università degli Studi di Padova

    PhD Candidate of PHD programme Land Environment Resources and Health (LERH) 

  • Edmondo Pietrangeli, Università degli Studi di Bergamo