A Spatial Analysis of City-Regions: Urban Form & Service Accessibility

This project was completed on behalf of the Nordic working group for Green Growth – sustainable urban regions under the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Regional Policy, Nordic Council of Ministers. This working group focuses on how spatial planning can support the development of attractive and sustainable city-regions, along with contributing to the development of beneficial tools for city-regional planning.

To understand the urban form of a city, planners must engage with complex questions of density, land use distribution, and accessibility to services and amenities. These issues, in turn, relate to critical strategic planning goals, such as regional equity, attractiveness, and environmental sustainability. In our research, conducted on behalf of the Nordic Working Group for Green Growth – sustainable urban regions, we tested a new methodological approach for integrating and measuring several of these dimensions. In doing so, we provided a spatial analysis of population density, service accessibility, and commuting pattern metrics of four case study areas in the Nordic Region: Funen (DK), Stockholm (SE), Tampere (FI) and Trondheim (NO). This analysis was applied with the following general principle in mind: where many types of services, public transportation and other amenities that people take benefit from in their everyday life are available within a convenient time distance, we can talk of well-functioning nodes in the urban form of a city. By considering this principle in relation to the urban patterns that are mapped, we aimed to determine how our analytical approach can be relevant for strategic planners working at the municipal or regional level.