The spatial distribution and frequency of street, plot and building types across five European cities
Journal article, 2019
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 quantita- tive 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 con- cept of the burgage cycle and the theory of natural movement.