Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis

Volume 6, Number 1, 2014




Urban Growth and the Spatial Structure of a Changing Region: An Integrated Assessment



The present study assesses changes (1949-2008) in the structure of a Mediterranean urban area (Rome, Italy) in three phases (compact growth, medium-density growth, low-density growth) of its recent expansion which reflect different economic contexts at the local scale. Using a quantitative approach based on land-use indicators and landscape metrics, distribution and fragmentation of built-up areas were analyzed from high-resolution and diachronic digital maps covering the investigated area (1,500 km2). The analysis of the (changing) urban structure during the study period allows for an indirect evaluation of planning impact on Rome's expansion. City's morphology changed rapidly due to urbanization. While in the first examined phase (1949-1974) metrics indicated compactness and densification trends, the fractal dimension of urban settlements increased in the subsequent period together with patch fragmentation, dispersion and shape complexity. The study identified the indicators better characterizing Rome's expansion as a contribution to the understanding of long-term urban dynamics in the Mediterranean region.


Key Words: compact growth, exurban development, urban morphology, fractality, Mediterranean region.


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