Urban Metabolism

Metabolism is the core of my research. As a transdisciplinary and cross-cutting concept links in a coherent manner all different topics I am researching. From practical remote sensing and GIS applications to informality, sprawl, and urbanization, metabolism involves everything, as a fundamental process taking place at all scales, from cells to the entire planet.

My approach is essentially materialistic, looking to material stocks, accumulated anthropogenic matter, what I called technomass. Indeed cities as ecosystems they accumulate matter, as all ecosystem do. In a forest or agricultural ecosystems, we called that matter biomass, a concept which greatly helps to understand ecosystems behavior and trajectories, greatly helping in the ecosystem´s management. From the side of urban ecosystems, I am proposing the concept of technomass, as a sum-up of materials accumulated by humans in urban tissues. Technomass it is also aimed at the Ecological understanding of the urban tissue, as it works reducing the high complexity of urban environments to only one, simple but profound measure: tons per hectare of anthropogenic materials. As such, it is possible to use technomass for ecological purposes, like assessing degrees of urbanization for instance, in a meaningful manner. I have tested technomass as an indicator of urbanization against other well-known indicators, and it performs in a wonderful way.