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The spatial distribution and frequency of street, plot and building types across five European cities

Journal article
Authors M. B. Pont
G. Stavroulaki
E. Bobkova
J. Gil
L. Marcus
Jesper Olsson
K. L. Sun
M. Serra
B. Hausleitner
A. Dhanani
A. Legeby
Published in Environment and Planning B-Urban Analytics and City Science
Volume 46
Issue 7
Pages 1226-1242
ISSN 2399-8083
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences
Pages 1226-1242
Language en
Keywords Typo-morphology, cluster analysis, built density, network centrality, land division, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Geography, Public Administration, Urban Studies
Subject categories Architecture, Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Public Administration Studies


Typologies have always played an important role in urban planning and design practice and formal studies have been central to the field of urban morphology. These studies have predominantly been of a historical-qualitative nature and do not support quantitative comparisons between urban areas and between different cities, nor offer the precise and comprehensive descriptions needed by those engaged in urban planning and design practice. To describe contemporary urban forms, which are more diffuse and often elude previous historic typologies, systematic quantitative methods can be useful but, until recently, these have played a limited role in typo-morphological studies. This paper contributes to recent developments in this field by integrating multi-variable geometric descriptions with inter-scalar relational descriptions of urban form. It presents typologies for three key elements of urban form (streets, plots and buildings) in five European cities, produced using statistical clustering methods. In a first instance, the resulting typologies contribute to a better understanding of the characteristics of streets, plots and buildings. In particular, the results offer insight into patterns between the types (i.e. which types are found in combination and which not) and provide a new large scale comparative analysis across five European cities. To conclude, a link between quantitative analysis and theory is established, by testing two well-known theoretical propositions in urban morphology: the concept of the burgage cycle and the theory of natural movement.

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