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Thread: Identifying urban form

  1. #1
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    Identifying urban form

    Hi there

    I am interested in different ways to identify urban form configurations that can then be applied to other urban areas as templates. All I've read so far seems to suggest quite complex statistical and GIS methods - any one come across a 'quick and dirty' method?

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Can you be more specific/provide general examples?

    What are you trying to identify? Housing forms, street layout forms, commercial development, etc?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    there are a number of books that do roughly what this image does and it is also how we evaluated urban forms in (architecture) school when doing urban projects. in terms of its effect its quick and dirty, but actually making those images can take a while depending on what your source material is and how good you are with photoshop. as an architect looking inward towards planning, i think statistical models ruin good places - but thats my biased and less educated opinion.

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    To expand on cellophane - I can think of some general categories regarding simple street/block layout - Grid, modified grid, medieval, baroque, City Beautiful, cul-de-sac/lollipop, urban transect, etc.

    The above is devoid of the actual buildings, which would add a couple more categories - zero lot line, suburban, etc.

    And you could always go with the A Field Guide to Sprawl and the (admittedly bias) categories within the context it addresses.

    I don't know if that's what your getting at, bristol?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Urban form is related to time developed and transportation available at that time. Other factors can include geographic features/limitations. Some features such as a lakeshore can be a draw while others can be a detriment.

    There is no simple formula as each urbn area developed under a different set of rules. For example, Detroit most closely resembles Toledo and Chicago in terms of form, but even there wide differences exist due to historical reasons, geographic features, and the timing of opportunities.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bristol_sass View post
    Hi there

    I am interested in different ways to identify urban form configurations that can then be applied to other urban areas as templates. All I've read so far seems to suggest quite complex statistical and GIS methods - any one come across a 'quick and dirty' method?
    These methods are complex because cities are complex. Reducing complexity to a few indicators is problematic and is most likely to result in failure of whatever it is you are trying to do.

    This guy has an interesting blog that tries to explore complexity in the built environment that may inform your inquiry. Have a look around.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Although it is a formula, the connectivity index says a lot about the design (walkability, etc) of an area. It is defined by the number of complete polygond defined by transportation features (streets, paths, etc) per unit area. The more there are the more "connected" an area is and the easier it is to get around in it. Culs de sac do not produce polygons at all. Large blocks yield lower indices.

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richi View post
    Although it is a formula, the connectivity index says a lot about the design (walkability, etc) of an area. It is defined by the number of complete polygond defined by transportation features (streets, paths, etc) per unit area. The more there are the more "connected" an area is and the easier it is to get around in it. Culs de sac do not produce polygons at all. Large blocks yield lower indices.
    Interesting. I have not heard of this technique before. Can you provide a link to further information? Makes sense intuitively, though.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  9. #9
    Or a more simple and highly correlated analog is to smiply use GIS to count the number of street nodes and idvide it by the area.

  10. #10
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Interesting. I have not heard of this technique before. Can you provide a link to further information? Makes sense intuitively, though.
    If I may, I briefly discuss a closely related issue (tortuosity) here (Apr 5, 2006 5:04:15 PM), and the concept is utilized here. Seattle-KingCo uses tortuosity to inform street network design planning (when possible, of course). Anne and Chanam Lee have done a lot of work on connectivity, here and here, albeit not for these particular purposes (AIUI from the brief description above).

    Hopefully this helps. Sorry for the buttinski.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post
    If I may, I briefly discuss a closely related issue (tortuosity) here (Apr 5, 2006 5:04:15 PM), and the concept is utilized here. Seattle-KingCo uses tortuosity to inform street network design planning (when possible, of course). Anne and Chanam Lee have done a lot of work on connectivity, here and here, albeit not for these particular purposes (AIUI from the brief description above).

    Hopefully this helps. Sorry for the buttinski.
    Thanks for the info. I really don't care who got the info to me first, though.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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