IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Urban form and compactness of morphological homogeneous districts in Barcelona: towards an automatic classification of similar built-up structures in the city


  • Nicola Colaninno
  • Josep Roca


  • Karin Pfeffer


Cities can be classified according to morphology of their urban structures. Depending on the spatial relations between built-up and empty spaces, blocks and streets (or squares) we can distinguish compact or fragmented cities as well as continuous or discontinuous. The configuration of the physical elements, with their own functional dynamics, produces different "drawings" in the cities. By disaggregating the urban fabric into different components, it is possible to study the topological, geometrical and dimensional relationships between the elements. This paper investigates the morphology of the city of Barcelona; the main objective is to identify and automatically classify morphological homogeneous categories and determine the level of compactness of urban textures. The classification consists of several steps. A first analysis was performed to identify different typologies in the built-up area and typify urban patterns by using geometrical and relational characteristics, such as shape of buildings and spatial interaction between them in terms of distance. This was followed by an automatic classification of urban fabrics with a homogeneous character. Finally, the morphological compactness was determined, calculated as "equilibrium" between size and distances of buildings. In order to make automatic classification of urban textures, we calibrated a set of indicators, capable to describe specific formal and functional characters and, by using GIS and statistical analysis such as factor and cluster analysis, we categorized several homogeneous "morphological neighbourhoods". This classification process is based on geometric characteristics, assuming that, in general, different functions require different forms. By aggregating subjects of similar behaviour we could identify to which kind of urban configuration a neighbourhood possibly belongs. The outcome of this study can support urban planning and management in identifying target areas concerning socio-economic interventions within urbanized territories.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Colaninno & Josep Roca & Karin Pfeffer, 2011. "Urban form and compactness of morphological homogeneous districts in Barcelona: towards an automatic classification of similar built-up structures in the city," ERSA conference papers ersa11p769, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p769

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p769. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.