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Open AccessArticle

Living Structure as an Empirical Measurement of City Morphology

Division of GIScience, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, University of Gävle, SE-801 76 Gävle, Sweden
Department of Public Health and Sports Science, University of Gävle, SE-801 76 Gävle, Sweden
Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, University of Gävle, SE-801 76 Gävle, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2020, 9(11), 677;
Received: 18 October 2020 / Revised: 9 November 2020 / Accepted: 11 November 2020 / Published: 14 November 2020
Human actions and interactions are shaped in part by our direct environment. The studies of Christopher Alexander show that objects and structures can inhibit natural properties and characteristics; this is measured in living structure. He also found that we have better connection and feeling with more natural structures, as they more closely resemble ourselves. These theories are applied in this study to analyze and compare the urban morphology within different cities. The main aim of the study is to measure the living structure in cities. By identifying the living structure within cities, comparisons can be made between different types of cities, artificial and historical, and an estimation of what kind of effect this has on our wellbeing can be made. To do this, natural cities and natural streets are identified following a bottom-up data-driven methodology based on the underlying structures present in OpenStreetMap (OSM) road data. The naturally defined city edges (natural cities) based on intersection density and naturally occurring connected roads (natural streets) based on good continuity between road segments in the road data are extracted and then analyzed together. Thereafter, historical cities are compared with artificial cities to investigate the differences in living structure; it is found that historical cities generally consist of far more living structure than artificial cities. This research finds that the current usage of concrete, steel, and glass combined with very fast development speeds is detrimental to the living structure within cities. Newer city developments should be performed in symbiosis with older city structures as a whole, and the structure of the development should inhibit scaling as well as the buildings themselves. View Full-Text
Keywords: head/tail breaks; scaling; living structure; wholeness; natural streets; natural cities; urban morphology head/tail breaks; scaling; living structure; wholeness; natural streets; natural cities; urban morphology
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Figure 1

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: This dataset includes the data used for the figures in the article "Living structure as an empirical measurement for city morphology" Included are tutorials of how the data is generated and how you are able to generate it for other cities as well.
MDPI and ACS Style

de Rijke, C.A.; Macassa, G.; Sandberg, M.; Jiang, B. Living Structure as an Empirical Measurement of City Morphology. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2020, 9, 677.

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