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An Urban Morphological Study on Swedish Cities from a Topological Perspective
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Industrial Development, IT and Land Management.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Streets provide the framework of a city and they are necessary for human life. Some underlying patterns of street networks cannot be directly recognized by people. In this study, topological analysis of urban street networks was adopted to build up new insight into urban morphology. Space syntax, which has been integrated into GIS, was applied for the analysis of spatial configuration, and fifty Swedish cities were chosen as samples to uncover various urban patterns. Street connectivity was the focus of the analysis and axial lines were the main analytical tools. The aim of this study was to hierarchically represent the cities’ streets and classify the sample cities into different types by urban morphology.

Street data for Swedish cities were collected from OpenStreetMap. ArcGIS 10, with the Axwoman extension, provided a platform to carry out the topological analysis. Natural roads, axial lines and space syntax parameters were generated automatically with the functions of Axwoman. Hierarchical levels of streets were visually represented and the underlying pattern of each city was gotten from the hierarchical representation. Based on street hierarchy, the fifty sample cities were classified into nine groups, wherein cities of the same group had uniform hierarchical levels. Using the hierarchical pattern of each group’s axial lines, the nine city groups were further reclassified into three types.

It was found that, for the street network of most sample cities represented with axial lines, not more than 40% of their streets have connectivity larger than the average value. The hierarchical representation also revealed that streets with high connectivity, which provide greater accessibility, were only minorities in the sample cities. Moreover, minor streets with high connectivity were almost distributed in city centers.

In some of the studied cities, axial lines made better representation of the hierarchical patterns of streets, while in others, it did not provide a suitable way of uncovering urban patterns compared to natural roads. A limitation of axial lines manifested in this study was that it chopped curved roads into several segments, thus, disrupting the continuity of streets.

In general, axial lines can provide a way to uncover urban patterns. They have meaningful effect to city residents and these patterns can help people gain better understanding of the urban structure. In addition, the hierarchical patterns of streets can be used to model pedestrian and traffic flows, predict crime occurrences, and make spatial plans. The hierarchical representation of streets can also contribute to people’s wayfinding performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , iv+30+appendixes p.
Keyword [en]
Urban morphology, topological analysis, urban street network, hierarchical levels
National Category
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-13930OAI: diva2:610007
Subject / course
Educational program
Geomatics – bachelor’s programme (swe or eng)
Available from: 2013-03-15 Created: 2013-03-08 Last updated: 2013-03-15Bibliographically approved

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Department of Industrial Development, IT and Land Management
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary

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