Spatial Typology of Growth Patterns in Urban-based Regions

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor, School of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


In this paper, explicating the characteristics and various patterns of three main concepts -urban growth, urban expansion and urban sprawl- aiming to typology from their sub-patterns in various studies of urban and regional literature have been reviewed. In other words, the aim of this paper is conceptual and spatial explanation of these words: urban growth, urban expansion and urban sprawl and their related concepts. Together with technologies and consumption styles, the form of settlements and the way human activities are organised in geographical space represent crucial research fieldsand sources of pre- occupation as far as ecological equilibria are concerned. In fact, in principle, the resource-efficiency of different settlement patterns is subject to wide variations with reference, at least, to two scarce natural resources: land resourcesand energy resources.Land consumption depends directly on the relative compactness of human settlements and on residential density; energy consumption.The question of the environmental or social costs of urban form is increasingly attracting attention in spatial policy, but scientific debate in this field is often marred by prejudices and abstract visions; empirical analyses are very rare.Urban growth topic and their patterns with the growth management policies, as important topics, affect various urban and regional plans.  For example urban growth is in essence a complex subsystem; it involves actors with differing patterns of behavior at various spatial and temporal scales. It centres on understanding the dynamic interactions between the socio economic and built environments and major natural environmental impacts. Complexity in the domain of urban growth can be divided into such classes as spatial, temporal and decision-making processe. The causes of urban growth are quite similar with those of sprawl. In most of the instances they can not be discriminated since urban growth and sprawl are highly interlinked. However, it is important to realise that urban growth may be observed without the occurrence of sprawl, but sprawl must induce growth in urban area. Some  of  the causes, for example population  growth, may result in coordinated compact growth or uncoordinated sprawled growth.Because of similarity and replacement of these concepts in urban planning literature, the aim of paper is the identification of similarities and diversities of their various patterns. The concept of pattern has special definitions in different disciplines. In geographical terms, pattern refers to a "regular arrangement or logic ordering of objects in geo-space", the manner in which a phenomenon is distributed in time and space .Space logic is called spatial pattern. In addition, a temporal pattern can be defined for changes over time. The research main method is a combination of attributive methods and explanatory analysis methods which based on explanation of topic literature and comparative comparison of global studies. Research findings show that the creation of clear line among these three concepts and their sub-patterns is very difficult and there is no consensus between professionals. Finally, after investigating ten theories and extracting of twelve specific patterns, the current paper presents a special Urban Pattern Typology (UPT) in three sections including: conceptual model, relative share and spatial sphere.


Acioly, C.C and Davidson, F (1996), Density in urban development, Building Issues, 8(3), pp.3–25.
Angel, S; Parent, J and Civco, D (2007), Urban sprawl metrics: an analysis of global urban expansion using GIS, Proceedings of ASPRS 2007 Annual Conference, Tampa, Florida May 7–11.
Barnes, K.B; Morgan, J.M; III, Roberge M.C and Lowe, S (2001), Sprawl Development:Its Patterns, Consequences, and Measurement, A white paper, Towson University.
Belkina, T.D (2007), Diagnosing urban development by an indicator system, Studies on Russian Economic Development, 18(2), pp.162–170.
Bhatta, B; Saraswati, S and Bandyopadhyay, D (2010a), Quantifying the degree-of-freedom, degree-of-sprawl, and degree-of-goodness of urban growth from remote sensing data, Applied Geography, 30(1), pp.96–111.
Bhatta, B; Saraswati, S and Bandyopadhyay, D (2010b), Urban Sprawl Measurement from Remote Sensing Data, Applied Geography, doi 10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.02.002.
Camagni, R; Cristina, M and Rigamonti, P (2002), Urban mobility and urban form: the social and environmental costs of different patterns of urban expansion, Ecological Economics, ????????????, pp.199- 216.
Cheng, J (2003), Modelling Spatial & Temporal Urban Growth, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) & Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Utrecht University.
Deng, J. S; Wang, K; Hong, Y & Qi, J. G (2009), Spatio-temporal dynamics and evolution of land use change and landscape pattern in response to rapid urbanization, Landscape and Urban Planning, 92(3–4), pp.187–198.
Dietzel, C; Herold, M; Hemphill, J. J & Clarke, K. C (2005), Spatio-temporal dynamics in California’s central valley: Empirical links to urban theory, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 19(2), pp.175–195.
Dietzel, C; Oguz, H; Hemphill, J. J; Clarke, K. C & Gazulis, N (2005), Diffusion and coalescence of the Houston Metropolitan Area: Evidence supporting a new urban theory, Environment and Planning B, 32(2), pp.231–246.
Ewing, RH (2008), Characteristics, Causes , and Effects of Sprawl: A Literature Review, Urban Studies, 21(2), pp.1-15.
Forman, R.T.T (1995), Land Mosaics: The Ecology of Landscapes and Regions, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Galster, G; Hanson, R; Wolman, H; Coleman, S and Freihage, J (2001), Wrestling sprawl to the ground: defining and measuring an elusive concept, Housing Policy Debate, 12(4), pp.681–717.
Geymen, A and Baz, I (2008), Monitoring urban growth and detecting land-cover changes on the Istanbul metropolitan area, Environmental Monitoring Assessment, 136, pp.449–459.
Harvey, R.O and Clark, W.A.V (1965), The nature and economics of urban sprawl, Land Economics, 41(1), pp.1–9.
Hedblom, M and Soderstrom, B (2008), Woodlands across Swedish urban gradients: status, structure and management implications, Landscape and Urban Planning, 84, pp.62–73.
Heimlich, R.E and Anderson, W.D (2001), Development at the Urban Fringe and Beyond: Impacts on Agriculture and Rural Land, ERS Agricultural Economic Report, No. 803, p. 88.
Hepinstall-cymerman, J; Coe, S and Hutyra, LR (2013), Urban growth patterns and growth management boundaries in the Central Puget Sound, ????????????109-129.
Herold, M; Couclelis, H and Clarke, K.C (2005), The role of spatial metrics in the analysis and modeling of urban change, Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems, 29, pp.339–369.
Herold, M; Goldstein, N. C & Clarke, K. C (2003), The spatiotemporal form of urban growth: Measurement, analysis and modeling, Remote Sensing of Environment, 86(3), pp.286–302.
Jantz, P; Goetz, S & Jantz, C (2005), Urbanization and the loss of resource lands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Environmental Management, 36(6), pp.808–825.
Johnson, L.F (2001a), Nitrogen influence on fresh-leaf NIR spectra, Remote Sensing of Environment, 78(3), pp.314–320.
Johnson, M.P (2001b), Environmental impacts of urban sprawl: a survey of the literature andproposed research agenda, Environment and Planning A, 33, pp.717–735.
Liu, X; Li, X and Chen, Y (2002), A new landscape index for quantifying urban expansion using multi-temporal remotely sensed data, Landscape Ecology, 2010, pp.671-682.
Luck, M & Wu, J. GA (2002), Gradient analysis of urban landscape pattern: A case study from the Phoenix metropolitan region, Arizona, USA. Landscape Ecology, 17(4), pp.327–339.
Martinuzzi, S; Gould, W.A and Gonzalez, O.M.R (2007), Land development, land use, and urban sprawl in Puerto Rico integrating remote sensing and population census data, Landscape and Urban Planning, 79, pp.288–297.
Muller, K; Steinmeier, C & Kuchler, M (2010), Urban growth along motorways in Switzerland, Landscape and Urban Planning, 98(1), pp.3–12.
Ottensmann, J.R (1977), Urban sprawl, land values and the density of development, Land Economics, 53(4), pp.389–400.
Páez, A and Scott, D.M (2004), Spatial statistics for urban analysis: a review of techniques with examples, GeoJournal, 61(1), pp.53–67.
Peng, J; Wang, Y. L; Zhang, Y; Wu, J. S; Li, W. F & Li, Y (2010), Evaluating the effectiveness of landscape metrics in quantifying spatial patterns, Ecological Indicators, 10(2), pp.217–223.
Puliafito, J.L (2007), A transport model for the evolution of urban systems, Applied Mathematical Modelling, 31, pp.2391–2411.
Rahman, G; Alam, D and Islam, S (2008); City growth with urban sprawl and problems of management, Proceedings of 44th ISOCARP Congress Dalian, China, September 19–23, International Society of City and Regional Planners and Urban Planning Society of China.
Roca, J; Burnsa, M.C and Carreras, J.M (2004), Monitoring urban sprawl around Barcelona’s metropolitan area with the aid of satellite imagery, Proceedings of Geo-Imagery Bridging Continents, XXth ISPRS Congress, July 12–23, Istanbul, Turkey.
Seto, K. C & Fragkias, M (2005), Quantifying spatiotemporal patterns of urban landuse change in four cities of China with time series landscape metrics, Landscape Ecology, 20(7), pp.871–888.
Shi, Y; Sun, X; Zhu, X; Li, Y and Mei, L (2012), Landscape and Urban Planning Characterizing growth types and analyzing growth density distribution in response to urban growth patterns in peri-urban areas of Lianyungang City, Landscape and Urban Planning, ??????, pp.425-433.
Sudhira, H.S and Ramachandra, T.V (2007), Characterising urban sprawl from remote sensing data and using landscape metrics, Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Computers in Urban Planning and Urban Management, Iguassu Falls, PR Brazil, July 11–13. URL:
Wang, Zhu; L, Wang, R and Shi, Y (2003), Analysis on the spatial distribution variation characteristic of urban heat environmental quality and its mechanism—a case study of Hangzhou city, Chinese Geographical Science, 13(1), pp.39–47.
Weitz, J and Moore, T (1998), Development inside urban growth boundaries: oregon’s empirical evidence of contiguous urban form, Journal of the American Planning Association, 64(4), pp.424– 440.
Wilson, E.H; Hurd, J.D; Civco, D.L; Prisloe, S and Arnold, C (2003), Development of a geospatial model to quantify, describe and map urban growth, Remote Sensing of Environment, 86(3), pp.275–285.
Xian, G & Crane, M (2005), Assessments of urban growth in the Tampa Bay watershed using remote sensing data, Remote Sensing of Environment, 97(2), pp.203–215.
Yanos, P.T (2007), Beyond “Landscapes of despair”: the need for new research on the urban environment, sprawl, and the community integration of persons with severe mental illness, Health & Place, 13, pp.672–676.
Zhang, P and Atkinson, P.M (2008), Modelling the effect of urbanization on the transmission of an infectious disease, Mathematical Biosciences, 211, pp.166–185.