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Using fractal dimensions for characterizing intra-urban diversity. The example of Brussels


  • Isabelle Thomas


  • Marie-Laurence De Keersmaecker


  • Pierre Frankhauser



The objective of this paper is to compare fractal-based parameters calculated by different fractal methods for urban built-up areas, and to link the observed spatial variations to variables commonly used in urban geography, urban economics or land use planning. Computations are performed on Brussels. Two fractal methods (correlation and dilation) are systematically applied for evaluating the fractal dimension of built-up surfaces; correlation is used to evaluate the fractal dimension of the borders (lines). Analyses show that while fractal dimension is ideal for distinguishing the morphology of Brussels, each estimation technique leads to slightly different results. Interesting associations are to be found between the fractal dimensions and rent, distance, income and planning rules. Despite its limitations, fractal analysis seems to be a promising tool for describing the morphology of the city and for simulating its genesis and planning. The model is robust: it replicates the urban spatial regularities and patterns, and could hence fruitfully be integrated into intra urban simulation processes.

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  • Isabelle Thomas & Marie-Laurence De Keersmaecker & Pierre Frankhauser, 2003. "Using fractal dimensions for characterizing intra-urban diversity. The example of Brussels," ERSA conference papers ersa03p116, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa03p116

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alex Anas & Richard Arnott & Kenneth A. Small, 1998. "Urban Spatial Structure," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1426-1464, September.
    2. Claire Dujardin & Isabelle Thomas & Henry Tulkens, 2007. "Quelles frontières pour Bruxelles ? Une mise à jour," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 155-176.
    3. Gomes, M.A.F, 2001. "Geometrical aspects in the distribution of languages and urban settlements," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 295(1), pages 9-16.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean Cavailhès & Pierre Frankhauser & Dominique Peeters & Isabelle Thomas, 2010. "Residential equilibrium in a multifractal metropolitan area," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 45(3), pages 681-704, December.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1411-:d:107779 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Isabelle Thomas & Pierre Frankhauser & Dominique Badariotti, 2012. "Comparing the fractality of European urban neighbourhoods: do national contexts matter?," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 189-208, April.

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