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The role of urban form in sustainability of community: The case of Amsterdam


  • Rowan Arundel
  • Richard Ronald


Urban policy has increasingly emphasized the compact city and higher density urban forms in reaching sustainability goals. Although environmental and economic advantages of densification have been empirically supported, the relation between higher density environments and social sustainability has been more contentious. Concerns have been raised regarding the social outcomes of high-density urban contexts; however, these connections have neither been well explored nor understood. Using the city of Amsterdam, considered a case of high-quality compact city form, our study looks at how specific neighbourhood built form relates to key measures of sustainability of community. Despite previous concerns regarding the effects of density, the study reveals that higher densities have no significant impact on local social capital, sense of community or resident satisfaction. Rather, other built-form measures such as scale, existence of local stores, degree of automobile dominance and construction period were of greater importance. The study of high-quality urban environments in Amsterdam challenges notions that higher densities are detrimental to social and community experience and proposes that the specific urban form of higher density neighbourhoods is of greater importance than absolute density.

Suggested Citation

  • Rowan Arundel & Richard Ronald, 2017. "The role of urban form in sustainability of community: The case of Amsterdam," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 44(1), pages 33-53, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirb:v:44:y:2017:i:1:p:33-53

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