Web del Observatorio del Paisaje

Urban residential developments

Scenic backdrops

Viewpoints and routes

Town entrances

Residential developments

River landscapes


Urban landscapes

Agricultural landscapes

Residential developments, generally consisting of detached or semi-detached homes, or of a mix of the two, have given rise to disordered and sometimes inconsistent low-density urban models unrelated to traditional urban settlements, which are based on compactness and density. Other consequences of this urban model include the fact that landscapes gradually become uniform, new skylines are created, new urban forms emerge, changes occur to first-rate scenic points of reference, vulnerability to forest fires increases, quality agricultural soil vanishes and basically the quality of the landscape decays overall. This urban model is considered obsolete today.

The landscape catalogues of Catalonia have defined tools and measures that may serve as a basis for local authorities to pursue the following two objectives with regard to their residential development areas:

  • Avoid the dispersal of residential developments and promote their connection to urban centre areas.
  • Improve landscape quality and fix shortcomings in residential developments.

Avoid the dispersal of residential developments and promote their connection to urban centre areas

Some tools and measures that towns may implement include:

  • Favouring the occupation of free spaces inside residential developments to prevent further dispersal in the area.
  • Preventing residential development in areas that are in contact with spaces of natural interest or spaces that connect landscapes.
  • Promoting strategies that link residential developments to urban centres, especially in urban development linked to primary residences and communication networks.

Improve landscape quality and fix shortcomings in residential developments

Some tools and measures that towns may implement include:

  • Improving the aesthetic quality of residential development entrances and exits, constructions (types, heights, dimensions), fences and roofs to give the residential development character and personality.
  • Improving the perimeters of the residential development for aesthetic purposes and to protect against forest fires (the limits must be defined and identifiable).
  • Ensuring that natural elements dominate in the residential development as a whole.
  • Keeping a list of native species for gardening (public and private) and for using in tree-lined fences, consistent with the landscape of the town where they are placed.
  • Improving the aesthetic quality of elements such as transformer cabins, community mailboxes, rubbish collection areas, low-intensity lighting, asphalt, sidewalks, etc.
  • Creating colour charts for some residential developments.
  • Giving identity to spaces with no symbolic or identity-related content. Here are four ways to do this:
  • Integrate and highlight elements and spaces with historical, symbolic, ecologic, religious, productive or aesthetic value that are located inside or near residential developments (dry stone walls, country homes, towers, castles, etc.).
  • Identify the name of the residential development and the names of the streets with features characteristic of the town or landscape to which they belong.
  • Find ways to increase the sociability of the residential development's inhabitants (group activities, adapting pertinent public spaces, etc.).
  • Boosting the placement of viewpoints and signposting routes for exploring the landscape.


© 2023 Landscape Observatory of Catalonia | Hospici, 8 - 17800 OLOT - Tel: +34 972 27 35 64 - observatori@catpaisatge.net