Antonella Radicchi

Antonella Radicchi

Architect and Urbanist, PhD


<Cover and above image respectively by Gabor Molnar and Daryan Shamkhali via unsplash>


Within the context of Agenda 2030, the built environment stands at the crossroad of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as it is a determinant for making green, energy-efficient and zero-pollution buildings and neighbourhoods (SDG3, SDG11, SDG15); boosting the circular economy (SDG8); lowering GHG emissions and contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation (SDG3, SDG9); protecting biodiversity (SDG15); and creating strong and global partnerships (SDG17).

The built environment is also key to the health and well-being of people, and its design is instrumental in achieving high-quality urban environments in response to societal, environmental and economic sustainability challenges like climate change, energy consumption, nature preservation and pollution. However, a scrutiny of the literature in sustainability and urban design studies shows that mainstream ‘sustainable’ approaches to the design of the built environment are mainly driven by a digital and technocratic approach applied to the building and neighbourhood scale, which tends to sideline the public realm and the social and natural life which unfolds there. Furthermore, mainstream ‘sustainable’ approaches are underpinned by theoretical and methodological frameworks with a bias towards cognitivism, thus overlooking the complex and interrelated cognitive, emotional, affective and corporal conditions of human beings.

To tackle these challenges, sustainability scholars have developed novel sustainability paradigms, such as the Regenerative Sustainability (RS) and the Sensory Sustainability Science (SSS) frameworks. The RS paradigm, for instance, aims to manifest thriving complex adaptive systems in a fully integrated individual-to-global system and calls for humans to live in conscious alignment with the living system principles of wholeness, change and relationships, as nature does. Another novel approach is represented by the one underpinning the so-called SSS paradigm, which calls for incorporating recent advances in social science, sensory studies and neo-phenomenology related to theories about corporeality, materiality, atmosphere and resonance in sustainability science.

However, how are these sustainability paradigms addressed in urban design by scholars and practitioners? What are the implications for theoretical and applied research, practice and developments in sustainability and urban design?

This Special Issue, “Urban Design for Sustainable Built Environment”, scrutinises these open questions through a collection of nine research articles which reflect a paradigm shift towards sustainable urban design practices and studies which privilege people and sustainable development in respect of the planet.
Specifically, these articles address three macro-themes: (a) regenerative streets and green public spaces; (b) emotions, cognition and orientation; and (c) methods and technology, as outlined in the following sections.

Continue reading our Editorial and explore the Special Issue.




  • Prof Dr J. Vida Manzano, University of Granada, Spain
  • Dr Antonella Radicchi, University of Siena, Italy
  • Dr J. Xiao, Birmingham CIty University, UK


We would like to thank all authors for their contributions to this Special Issue and for their high-quality work and effort in the reviewing process of the manuscripts. We would like also to acknowledge the pioneering research work on the Sensory Sustainability Science by Harald Heinrichs which has been inspirational to the conception of this Special Issue.



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I developed the design project in the frame of the workshop commissioned by the Municipality of Vinci and held at the School of Doctorate – University of Firenze, Faculty of Architecture. As doctoral students, we were asked to contribute with design project ideas to the development of the Masterplan of the Municipality of Vinci.  I focused on tiny villages, ancient parishes, forgotten churches, working farms, archaeological ruins, old and new paths, neglected public spaces which for me constituted the very identity of Vincy. As backdrop, the physical surroundings: the Arno River and the Albano Mountain. Therefore, the project became a patchwork quilt, sewing together the fabric of the landscape to create a new system of paths, public spaces and accesses. The main goal was to connect the tiny villages to the landscape and to highlight the historical importance and improve the self-sustenance of the landscape.




Municipality of Vinci, University of Firenze


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As a freelance Architect and Urban Designer, I collaborated with Italian architecture and urban design firms on international and national urban design and planning competitions and projects.


2006 – 2014


Inter alia: Archea Associati (IT), T-studio Guendalina Salimei (IT), Social Design Studio (IT), Studio Luca Zevi Architetto (IT).



As a Scientific Consultant, I worked on the project Architettura: Energia per il Made in Italy (Architecture: Energy for the Made in Italy), led by Prof. Rosario Pavia, researching the best design projects developed by the Italian architectural and engineering firms abroad since 2000. I also served as graphic editor of the final 450-page report of the project and the exhibition.


2014 – 2015


IN/ARCH (the National Institute of Architecture) and MISE (the Italian Minister of Economic Development)



As a Scientific Consultant, I was a member of the curatorial team – led by Arch. Luca Zevi and Prof Rosario Pavia – in charge of curating the exhibition Le Quattro Stagioni. Le Architetture del Made in Italy (The Four Seasons. The Made in Italy Architectures) displayed at the Italian Pavilion for the 13th Architecture Biennial of Venice, Venice (IT).




Foundation La Biennale di Venezia