Territories-in-between: A Cross-case Comparison of Dispersed Urban Development in Europe

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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An increasing body of literature suggests that the conventional idea of a gradual transition in spatial structure from urban to rural does not reflect contemporary patterns of urban development and their potential for sustainable development. The research introduces the concept of territories-in-between (TiB) to address the issues surrounding the sustainability of dispersed urban development. A cross-case comparison research design was chosen to develop methods and principles that can be transferred to other geographical contexts. Ten cases in five countries were studied with the aim to answer the following questions:
What spatial structures characterise dispersed urban areas in Europe? Which morphological and functional structures of dispersed urban areas offer the potential for more sustainable development? If so, how can this potential be mapped and measured to inform regional planning and design? Are there similarities and dissimilarities concerning potentials of dispersed urban areas in different locations, planning cultures, topographies and histories? Do dispersed urban areas have distinct characteristics? In sum, the findings show that dispersed urban areas in Europe are quite distinct from urban and rural areas and that they share characteristics from one place to another. The research investigated three aspects of sustainable spatial development, the potential of multi-functionality, the provision of ecosystem services and the presence and potential for mixed-use.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Nadin, V., Supervisor
  • Zonneveld, W.A.M., Supervisor
  • Rooij, R.M., Advisor
Award date22 Jan 2020
Place of PublicationDelft
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6366-244-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment No 2 (2020)


  • dispersed urban development
  • Spatial planning
  • regional spatial analysis,
  • sprawl


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