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Patterns of Urban Spatial Expansion in European Cities

Centro di ricerca sull’Ambiente, l’energia e lo sviluppo sostenibile (CRASL), Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 25121 Brescia, Italy
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, 20123 Milan, Italy
Department of Economics, Management, Society, Agrocampus Ouest, 49045 Angers, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2247;
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
In representing urban sprawl, the decline in population and employment density from the city centre to the periphery has been identified as the main character associated with the spatial expansion of built-up areas. Urban spatial discontinuity, which occurs when the urban fabric includes built-up or green areas and a relevant share of vacant spaces, has gained recent attention. In this paper, we use Global Human Settlement Layer data to track urbanisation dynamics in European Functional Urban Areas (FUAs) from 1990 to 2014. We represent urban sprawl as the spatial expansion of FUAs associated with either or both declining population density and increasing built-up area discontinuity. We also consider the association with the demographic trends that have been described as the primary driver of urban spatial expansion. We use configural frequency analysis to explore the local association between the different characters of sprawl. We found evidence that urban sprawl effectively took differentiated forms across European FUAs. Even though FUAs have generally become less dense and more disperse, our results show that the extent of these phenomena appears to be more contained in recent years than in previous decades. Both elements of sprawl characterise FUAs with a shrinking population, confirming the decoupling of urban development policies and demographic trends in cities. The results call for better controlled urban development, favouring compact cities and subjecting land-use changes to a perspective of urban population growth. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban sprawl; urban morphology; European cities; configural frequency analysis urban sprawl; urban morphology; European cities; configural frequency analysis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Guastella, G.; Oueslati, W.; Pareglio, S. Patterns of Urban Spatial Expansion in European Cities. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2247.

AMA Style

Guastella G, Oueslati W, Pareglio S. Patterns of Urban Spatial Expansion in European Cities. Sustainability. 2019; 11(8):2247.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Guastella, Gianni, Walid Oueslati, and Stefano Pareglio. 2019. "Patterns of Urban Spatial Expansion in European Cities" Sustainability 11, no. 8: 2247.

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