Special Issue "Conditions, Effects and Costs of Spatial Chaos"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Przemysław Śleszyński
Guest Editor
Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences
Interests: Urban geography; population geography; migration studies; geography of enterprise; transport geography; electoral geography; spatial economy; spatial planning; cartography and geo-information; landscape qualities
Dr. Piotr Gibas
Guest Editor
University of Economics in Katowice, 1 Maja 50, 40-287 Katowice
Interests: development studies; local and regional development; spatial economy; spatial planning; cartography and geo-information; urban and rural geography
Mr. Paweł Sudra
Assistant Guest Editor
Institute of Urban and Regional Development, ul.Targowa 45, 03-728 Warszawa
Interests: geography of settlement; urban planning and regeneration; spatial economy; local development; landscape ecology; urban greenery; ecosystem services; protected areas; cartography and geo-information

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is dedicated to one of the most serious problems of local and regional development in the urbanized world, which is the chaotic and inefficient growth of various types of settlement systems. These are both large agglomerations and smaller towns, as well as villages. In principle, the problem concerns all the most important aspects of spatial development, such as infrastructure, transport, and the municipal economy, as well as natural systems. Therefore, it brings huge global social and economic losses, on a scale of hundreds of billions of USD.

We suggest that authors  submit materials falling within one or more of the thematic threads, focusing on conceptual-theoretical, methodological, cognitive, and application issues:

  1. Theoretical concepts and terminology of the phenomenon of spatial chaos at various geographical scales. 
  1. Methodology of the research approaches to the processes related to spatial chaos (e.g., disorderly deconcentration of settlement systems), including proposals for new indicators and measures describing spatial chaos. 
  1. Examples of research on urban sprawl. In view of the relatively extensive literature on the subject, we ask for examples based on the following:
    • “ Typical" places of spatial chaos (such as suburban zones, transport corridors or tourist areas), but investigated in longer time series or within the context of larger areas (for example, a large region or whole country);
    • Atypical, relatively poorly recognized places of occurrence of urban sprawl/peri-urbanization, e.g., for areas of the world from where there is little research on this subject. 
  1. Estimation of specific costs (monetary, temporal, areal, etc.) related to the phenomenon of spatial chaos. 
  1. Good practices in combating and mitigating spatial chaos processes. In this case, we do not refer to typical case studies, but rather synthetic and review papers.

Hoping for your interest,

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Przemysław Śleszyński
Dr. Piotr Gibas
Mr. Paweł Sudra
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • spatial chaos
  • uncontrolled urbanization
  • settlement dispersion
  • suburbanization
  • local economy
  • quality of life
  • losses in spatial economy

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Visual Pollution
Authors: Szymon Chmielewski
Affiliation: University of Life Sciences in Lublin

Title: The Contemporary Economic Costs of Spatial Chaos in Poland
Authors: Przemysław Śleszyński; Adam Kowalewski; Tadeusz Markowski; Paulina Legutko-Kobus; Maciej Nowak
Affiliation: 1 Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda 51/55, 00-818 Warsaw, Poland 2 Foundation in Support of Local Democracy, Żurawia 43, 00-680 Warsaw, Poland 3 University of Lodz, Faculty of Management, Matejki 22/26, 90-237 Łódź, Poland 4 Department of Regional and Spatial Development at Warsaw School of Economics, Niepodległości Av. 162, 02-554 Warsaw, Poland
Abstract: Summary. The aim of the article is to present in a synthetic form the results of the Committee for Spatial Economy and Regional Planning of Polish Academy of Sciences research on the costs of spatial chaos in Poland, compared to other Polish and foreign studies. Work on the costs of spatial chaos in Poland was conducted in 2016-2018 by an interdisciplinary group of 30 experts and resulted in the publication of a 3-volume monograph with a total volume of 841 pages (Kowalewski et al. 2018). In this article, the most important documented costs, which were estimated at 19.8 billion euros per year on a nationwide scale, have been compared using various measures, mainly monetary. They arise in such categories as settlement and technical infrastructure (construction of infrastructure, servicing of excessively dispersed settlement, negative balance of spatial management), transport and mobility (excessive commuting, traffic congestion, time losses, external costs), agriculture (mechanization, transport, excessive exclusion of land from agricultural production, protection by forestation and greenery), real estate market (purchase of land, compensation claims, reduced income from property tax) and external costs in the natural environment (environmental protection expenditure, health costs, natural disaster elimination). The estimated high costs of spatial chaos result, among others, from the fact that Poland since the beginning of political transformation is not able to introduce new effective system of physical planning. The source of this is the underestimation of benefits and disregard for the principles of rational spatial policy, commonly observed in civilized countries (although there are also good examples in Poland which are worth to be followed). They say that space is a common good, and its quality, i.e. order and beauty, as well as natural and cultural values, are of fundamental importance for the quality of life and development of both citizens and entire countries and regions. In this context, the reason for the space crisis par excellence is the flawed law in Poland and the wrong spatial policy, including local governments. The attempts at systemic improvements made so far have been unsuccessful. Meanwhile, spatial disorder and uncontrolled urbanization cause huge social and economic losses, documented in the article. Keywords: cost of spatial chaos, spatial disorder, uncontrolled urbanization, Poland.

Title: Abandoned Agricultural Land Quantification in Urban Areas Using High Resolution Satellite Imagery
Authors: Sławomir Królewicz; Juan José Ruíz-Lendínez; Barbara Maćkiewicz; Paweł Motek; Tadeusz Stryjakiewicz
Affiliation: Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland
Abstract: Nowadays, while many cities in the world apply urban agriculture as a strategic tool for sustainable development in Poland, the need to protect agriculture and agricultural land use within urban areas has not been recognized so far. According to the cadastral data, the share of this type of land in the largest Polish cities is still high (about 1/3 of their total area) and is perceived as land for investment purposes. In this study we argue that the real share of agricultural land in the space of Polish cities is much lower. Using the city of Poznań as an example, we assess the degree of abandonment of agricultural land. To this end we use satellite imagery. In many other fields and applications, Remote Sensing has proved to be particularly efficient in studying processes which involve spatio-temporal dynamics. In this sense, the results have shown that land abandonment is no exception. Thus, the agricultural use of cadastral plot was determined based on Sentinel1A/B and 2A/B data from 2015 and 2018. Both sensors give image data with 10 m spatial resolution. One radar image per month was used to determine the roughness changes during the whole year. Based on the calibrated optical (2-level of the distributed products by ESA - European Space Agency) data, some biophysical and urban indexes were calculated. Next k-means classification algorithm was used to prepare land cover maps. The results were compared with real data acquired from the Land and Buildings Records concerning agricultural land use. abandoned land mapping, satellite imagery, spatial temporal dynamics, biophysical index, Poznań

Title: Urban Costs of Spatial Chaos
Authors: Małgorzata Czornik; Marcin Baron; Edyta Szafranek
Affiliation: University of Katowice
Abstract: The presented paper is of a theoretical and conceptual nature. Its objective is to identify and describe the types of urban costs incurred by different groups of city users operating in the reality of spatial chaos. Urban costs are all expenses incurred by city users in connection with the use of its resources to manufacture products and benefit of urban consumption. As such, urban costs are extensive and complex. They include both public costs (incurred by public sector institutions pursuing their activities in the city) and private costs (incurred by households and individuals from outside the city, e.g. commuters or tourists). All of them can be classified into many different categories, depending on the analytical approach. The authors focus on four different approaches to defining urban spatial chaos and its opposite, i.e. spatial order. They are approaches: aimed at order creation; oriented toward functioning in chaos; related to the acceptance of the loss of some kind of order to achieve another; and based on the ambition to build upon the richness of diversity. They are matched with two types of order linked to offers available in urban areas. The first is the order defined as public goods, i.e. everything that can be used to meet urban needs, limited to non-market delivery. The other is the order being a product, i.e. goods intended for sale, for which production depends on demand backed by the purchasing power of consumers. These assumptions lead to identification of the eight fields of scrutiny and corresponding cost groups (Fig. 1.). The paper is focused on theoretical developments within the eight fields indicated in the matrix (Fig. 1.). The research is conducted from the perspective of economic sciences. The authors attempt to redefine the basic economic concepts related to the category of costs to meet the contemporary needs of urban economy. The paper aims at inspiring comprehensive academic discussion on researching the urban costs of spatial chaos. The literature related to spatial planning is dominated by thematic analyses most often associated with the costs of maintaining municipal infrastructure and the costs of commuting / services in the areas of urban development. However, this is a narrow approach, often overlooking issues related to the real estate market and land value. The paper also sets the framework for future contributions to defining the methodology for conducting empirical urban research on the costs of spatial chaos.

Title: New indicators of spatial chaos in the context of retrofitting suburbs
Authors: Dorota Mantey; Wojciech Pokojski
Affiliation: University of Warsaw

Abstract: The article is dedicated to the phenomenon of spatial chaos in Polish suburbs, which due to the uncontrolled process of dispersion of the buildings and the patches of built-up areas require urgent retrofitting. Retrofitting of suburbs should contribute to increasing the density of buildings and more frequent functioning of residents in the local environment. The authors are convinced that this renewal can be achieved by improving two dimensions of spatial chaos: limited pedestrian mobility around the place of residence and low access to basic services. These dimensions can be shaped by local authorities, developers or housing cooperatives operating in suburban real estate market. The article proposes a set of ten indicators that allow measuring the level of spatial chaos in individual suburbs, i.e. on a smaller scale than a municipality, and describe the features of the built environment typical of Polish suburbs. The indicators refer to five elements of spatial chaos, namely: (1) street connectivity, (2) pedestrian infrastructure, (3) centrality / nuclearity on a local level, (4) proximity to public objects and services, (5) location of main public open space. Each element is described by two indicators, which then become the basis for calculating the synthetic index of spatial chaos. The proposed method has been tested in four suburbs near Warsaw (Żółwin, Owczarnia, Józefosław and Komorów), diversified in terms of compactness of buildings, street layout, pedestrian infrastructure, and access to basic services and public spaces.

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