How Trees Shape Urban Spaces: Multiplicity and Differentiation of the Urban Forest Viewed from a Visual-Spatial Perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background: The field of urban forestry encompasses many dimensions, of which that of visual-spatial perception, addressing the spatial relationship between city and trees, has received little attention. Analyzing the urban forest from a visual-spatial perspective is needed to understand relationships between different components as well as site-specific qualities. Methods: Tree configurations describe the relationship between form and space, determined by the relative disposition of the trees which result from an interaction between design and the development over time. Based on field observations, with the city of Delft in the Netherlands as a case study, 35 generic tree configuration types have been defined. With this “vocabulary,” specific tree configurations and their relations are researched, describing the urban forest from an eyelevel perspective as an essential level on which the spatiality of the urban forest can be understood. Results: Unraveling the urban forest components by comparing two emblematic ensembles of tree configurations allows an understanding of their heterogeneity as well as their coherence and dynamics. Conclusions: The relationship of the tree vocabulary with the specific location exposes their role as an ordering structure and a carrier of the identity of Delft, and their differentiation and site-specific qualities, revealing a composition of wooded areas each with their own characteristics, shows both urban and forested areas as equivalent components of an urban forest mosaic. This differentiation can be used as a tool for strengthening relations between the different components as well as diversity and heterogeneity in urban forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-17
Number of pages14
JournalArboriculture & Urban Forestry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventUrban Forests, Forest Urbanisms & Global Warming: Developing Greener, Cooler and More Resilient Cities - KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 27 Jun 202229 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • site specificity
  • tree configurations
  • Tree architecture
  • tree vocabulary
  • visual-spatial characteristics


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