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Compact sprawl: Exploring public open space and contradictions in urban density
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture. (Spatial Analys & Design)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6426-8004
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Twentieth century urbanization has left a tremendous footprint on the globe. It is generally speaking a spread out fragmented suburban and exurban landscape continuously growing according to what has been called sprawl-like development, increasing energy and automobile dependency, challenging urban sustainability. Recently urban growth has also turned inwards because of economic and political change. Thus one of the main challenges for future urban design will be to ‘compact sprawl’. This thesis, set in the field of urban morphology, explores the spatial conditions for suburban densification by looking at administrative and user-related measures of density, public open space, and pedestrian accessibility. If we consider useful open space, it would not decrease density, but rather increase spatial compactness. So would also a well-connected street network, if we consider accessibility as part of density. The thesis’ first four papers explore new measures that contradict ordinary notions of density and the last three papers examine densification scenarios on different urban scales in collaboration with urban planners in practice.

The paper Place syntax explores a possibility to combine the space syntax description of cognitive accessibility, axial line distance, with place attraction into a combined attraction-accessibility analysis model. Empirical investigation shows that place syntax analysis captures pedestrian movement and can be used for new types of location density analyses.

Sociotope mapping describes the theoretical body of a new urban planning tool called the “sociotope map” (sociotopkarta) developed in Stockholm planning practice. The map emphasizes that the same public open space can have different direct use values for different people and thereby assesses qualitative open space area.

Exploring Ambiterritory investigates the notion of (sub)urban no-man’s-land. Densification most often means increased open space use, which naturally leads to an increase of potential conflicting territorial interests. However, the reduction of vague user space and unclear legal territories by densification can increase the size of useful open space.

More green space in a denser city investigates whether little public green space means low accessibility. User questionnaires and GIS-analyses in ten city districts in Stockholm correlate and show that it is possible to have more accessible green space in a denser city.

Strategic exurban landscape densification investigates different municipal location strategies and development rates in the municipality of Kungälv. Results show that location strategies create the biggest landscape impact and not development rates.

Greening metropolitan growth analyzes the density landscape in Stockholm county region and finds some correlations with health and socioeconomic variables. Growth scenarios in the regional plan for 2030 show decreasing compactness and spaciousness in inner suburbia.

Compact sprawl experiments use the measures developed in the former papers on four densification scenarios in two suburbs in Stockholm. The results show how it is possible to efficiently compact modernist sprawl, particularly the inner suburbs.

It is likely that we will be more dependent on walking, bicycling, and public transportation in the future. Street networks and public open spaces are then key issues today just as they were at the end of the nineteenthcentury, creating compact, sustainable, liveable, equitable, and more competitive cities. In fact, many compact urban cores such as in Stockholm, London, and Manhattan have through the 20th century persistently stood up to the competition against more sprawling cities. The thesis shows that compacting inner suburbia seems to be the new frontier many cities and planners are facing. In fact, this is a vast unexplored field that needs further attention in urban studies and urban morphology in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , 79 p.
Series
Trita-ARK. Akademisk avhandling, ISSN 1402-7461 ; 2008:6
Keyword [en]
Spatial morphology, Urban design, Public open space, Urban density, Landscape planning
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9193ISBN: 978-91-7415-119-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-9193DiVA: diva2:37326
Public defence
2008-10-28, Sal F3, Lindstedsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Stadsform och hållbar utveckling
Note
QC 20100913Available from: 2008-10-15 Created: 2008-10-02 Last updated: 2012-03-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Place syntax: Geographic attraction-accessibility analysis with axial lines
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Place syntax: Geographic attraction-accessibility analysis with axial lines
(English)In: Environment and Planning, B: Planning and Design, ISSN 0265-8135, E-ISSN 1472-3417Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24484 (URN)
Note
QC 20100910. Tidigare version: Ståhle, A., Marcus, L., & Karlström, A. 2005, "Place Syntax: Geographic accessibility with axial lines in GIS", Proceedings in 5th Space Syntax Symposium, Delft.Available from: 2010-09-10 Created: 2010-09-10 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Sociotope mapping: Exploring public open space and its multiple use values in urban and landscape planning practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sociotope mapping: Exploring public open space and its multiple use values in urban and landscape planning practice
2006 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, ISSN 1102-5824, Vol. 19, no 4, 59-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to describe the theoretical body of a new urban planning tool called the "sociotope map" (Swedish: sociotopkarta), developed within the planning practice of the Stockholm City Urban Planning Administration. Since the postmodern communicative turn in urban and landscape planning, dominated by densification and sprawl, there has been a great demand for a more efficient connection between the system world of planners and the life world of citizens, starting from the users’ space and perspective, not the planners’. In Lefebvre’s terms the sociotope map is a representation of the users’ perceived space. The key Marxist concept here is use value, or more accurately in environmental economic terms: direct use value. The Stockholm sociotope map is consequently a map of the commonly perceived direct open use values of specific open space, of the citizens of Stockholm. The map emphasizes that people share use values but that every open space has a unique set of values. Its representation of diversity of place (topos) is maybe just the level of reduction that makes the map true enough to the citizens and at the same time useful for the planners. This can explain its recent recognition in Stockholm and other fast growing municipalities in Sweden (e.g. Gothenburg 2004-2007 and Uppsala/Gottsunda 2006). However more experience and research still remain to completely understand this tool. The recent success can only be explained by the fact that there is a true demand. A society which is turning increasingly postmodern, globalized and individualized can hardly plan, develop or grow without knowledge of the common use values of urban public open space.

Keyword
public space, open space, urban planning, landscape design, use value
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24485 (URN)
Note
QC 20100910Available from: 2010-09-10 Created: 2010-09-10 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved
3. Exploring ambiterritory: no-man's-land in post-war morphologies, confusing users and complicating maintenance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring ambiterritory: no-man's-land in post-war morphologies, confusing users and complicating maintenance
2007 (English)In: Proceedings, 6th. International Space Syntax Symposium, 2007Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Although territorial issues are typically not part of space syntax research, territorial issues have always been part of spatial configurations. Already The social logic of space highlights the fundamental differences between the interior and (private) and the exterior (public). This paper expands this straightforward scheme by investigating a very particular territorial phenomenon in urban open space. When territories are contradictory or blurred, an ambiterritory (a no-man’s-land) is created. GIS-analyses show that ambiterritory is mostly found in post-war modernist morphologies.

A theoretical framework defines two types ambiterritory. Goods ambiterritory (Type A) are the mismatch of lived and perceived space in terms of the divergence of private and public territorialities defined by intervisibility and use. Territorial human actions are translated into material actants in space and create disturbed public ambiterritory (A1) and disturbed private ambiterritory (A2). Legal ambiterritory (Type B) appears when use value and property owner do not match. This creates public pseudo-property (B1) and private pseudo-property (B2).

A GIS-study was applied to the framework in ten city districts in Stockholm: three urban grid areas, one postmodern area, three villa areas, and three post-war modernist areas. The results are clear and unambiguous. Post war modernist areas and in-fills create extensive ambiterritory. In the modernist areas, 4-8% of open space (A1), 7-12% of public property (B1), or 14-15% of private property is lost to ambiterritory. These findings where confirmed by interviews with experienced professionals in public open space management. Ambiterritories are hence used by no one, left by management, creating an uncertain void that makes it costly for society.

The framework presented in this paper must be considered as an initial theoretical sketch, far from being complete. There are still many factors left out and uncorrelated. A fundamental difficulty is the limitations in getting quantitative empirical data. Hypotheses and preliminary findings nonetheless indicate that what has been called ambiterritoriality ought to be something worth further investigation and that GIS can be a very useful tool. There is also a need for problematizing the debate on public space and margins. Take for example the concepts so commonly used in urban research and urban design practice “semi private” and “semi public”, which clearly lack distinction. Space syntaxtheory has great potential to put territoriality into new light.

Keyword
Territoriality, Ambiterritory, Public space, Private property, Urban design, Urban management
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24494 (URN)
Note
QC 20100913Available from: 2010-09-13 Created: 2010-09-13 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved
4. More green space in a denser city: Critical relations between user experience and urban form
Open this publication in new window or tab >>More green space in a denser city: Critical relations between user experience and urban form
2010 (English)In: Urban Design International, ISSN 1357-5317, E-ISSN 1468-4519, Vol. 15, no 1, 47-67 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article suggests new tools for understanding and measuring how urban design affects green space accessibility: how urban structure distributes open space to people and how it creates users and stakeholders. Two similar questionnaires from 2001 and 2004 reveal that citizens in some dense inner city districts experience higher green space accessibility than citizens in some low-density ‘green’ suburbs in Stockholm. This peculiar result was the starting point of testing old and new measures in 10 different city districts using a new GIS-application ‘The Place Syntax Tool’ (PST). PST makes it possible to calculate the open space accessibility from every address point in an urban area. A new measure, which considers range (1000 m), orientation (axial line distance), green space size (sqm) and number of use values, correlated considerably better to the questionnaires (R2=0.74, P<0.001) than any of the conventional measures. Correlation was also found when comparing another questionnaire that asked participants how often they go to their favorite green area and axial line accessibility to green areas (R2=0.77, P=0.018). Consequently, cognitive anthropocentric measures of accessibility and attraction can change the common opinion of open space and ‘green’ from a static to a dynamic urban entity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
Keyword
green space; urban density; accessibility analysis; place syntax; Stockholm
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-89396 (URN)10.1057/udi.2009.27 (DOI)000276475400003 ()2-s2.0-77950856741 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Formas
Note
QC 20120216Available from: 2012-02-16 Created: 2012-02-14 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
5. Strategic exurban landscape densification: Evaluating landscape fragmentation in counter-sprawl policies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategic exurban landscape densification: Evaluating landscape fragmentation in counter-sprawl policies
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24495 (URN)
Note
QC 20100913Available from: 2010-09-13 Created: 2010-09-13 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved
6. Greening metropolitan growth: Integrating nature recreation, compactness and spaciousness in regional development planning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Greening metropolitan growth: Integrating nature recreation, compactness and spaciousness in regional development planning
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24496 (URN)
Note
QC 20100913Available from: 2010-09-13 Created: 2010-09-13 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved
7. Compact Sprawl Experiments: four strategic densification scenarios for two modernist suburbs in Stockholm
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Compact Sprawl Experiments: four strategic densification scenarios for two modernist suburbs in Stockholm
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the 7th International Space Syntax Symposium / [ed] Daniel Koch, Lars Marcus, Jesper Steen, 2009, 109:1-109:15 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One of the biggest challenges for future urban design is to cope with suburbia and sprawl. This paper investigates how sprawl can be compacted in terms of spatial morphology. New 'user-related' location density measures, like spaciousness and compactness, are introduced that integrate floor area, axiality of pedestrian network, and public open space. These and 'administrative' area density measures are applied to two modernist suburbs in Stockholm, Björkhagen and Rågsved (1946-1957), and four strategic densification scenarios: 'New urbanism', 'New regularism', 'New conservatism', and 'New modernism'. The results show that the suburbs can increase by 100% in Floor Area Ratio in the first two and but only 20-40% in the other two. Floor area accessibility, however, is influenced by network accessibility more than plot density. Public open space is needed to uphold spaciousness and compactness. To conclude, tree-like morphologies seem rational in peripheral low density suburbs with a lot of public open space, but when densified the grid becomes more necesary to uphold compactness. Even though densification by 'New urbanism' or 'New regularism' in modernist suburbia is improbable due to political reality, they point out possible ways to compact more efficiently modernist sprawl as well as the need for further research.

Series
Trita-ARK. Forskningspublikationer, ISSN 1402-7453 ; 2009:1
Keyword
spatial configuration, urban analysis, urban growth, methodology, urban sprawl, compact city
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24497 (URN)978-91-7415-347-7 (ISBN)
Note
QC 20100913. Uppdaterad från manuskript till konferensbidrag (20100913).Available from: 2010-09-13 Created: 2010-09-13 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved

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  • ieee
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