2018/11/20 – Seminar by Silvia Ronchi, “The application of an Urban morphology indicator for Landscape planning: a case study in Lombardy region (Northwest Italy)”

Silvia Ronchi, Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies

The application of an Urban morphology indicator for Landscape planning: a case study in Lombardy region (Northwest Italy)

The spatial development of urban systems affects landscape patterns as well as people’s aesthetic perception of it. Generally, such urban morphologies have more impacts than others threatening the spatial structures of cities and metropolitan areas. An example is Urban sprawl defined by the European Environment Agency (2006) as “the physical pattern of low-density expansion of large urban areas under market conditions into the surrounding agricultural areas”.

Despite an old and persistent debate over the precise definition of urban sprawl, a general agreement is on its multidimensional character (Barnes et al., 2002; Oueslati et al., 2015). The density, continuity, proximity, fragmentation, clustering, concentration, mixed-used are just some of the parameters used for describing sprawl phenomenon.

The process of sprawl leads to an urban morphology which is diametrically opposed to the model of the compact city and is associated with many kinds of spatial patterns: stripped, ribbon or “leapfrogged” urban development.

Assessing urban morphology in spatial terms is crucial to urban policy, while landscape metrics are the key to a comprehensive understanding of different urban development patterns.

The seminar describes the development of a composite indicator of urban morphology used to identify the heterogeneity of built-up landscape patterns based on urban porosity, fragmentation and patch shape. This Urban Morphology Indicator (UMI) is a result of Esri ArcGIS 10.x “grouping analysis” which works by applying a spatial statistical metric for clustering.

The UMI was tested in the Lombardy Region (north-west Italy) and included in the Regional Landscape Plan. Morphological analysis has been used to set regional policies for managing urban development, thus minimising its impact on the surrounding ecosystems and preserving the natural environment and landscape.