Six fundamental aspects for conceptualizing multidimensional urban form: A spatial mapping perspective

Elizabeth A. Wentz, Abigail M. York, Marina Alberti, Lindsey Conrow, Heather Fischer, Luis Inostroza, Claire Jantz, Steward T.A. Pickett, Karen C. Seto, Hannes Taubenböck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Urbanization is currently one of the most profound transformations taking place across the globe influencing the flows of people, energy, and matter. The urban form influences and is influenced by these flows and is therefore critical in understanding and how urban areas affect and are affected by form. Nevertheless, there is a lack of uniformity in how urban form is analyzed. Urban form analyzed from a continuum of a simple urban versus non-urban classification to highly detailed representations of land use and land cover. Either end of the representation spectrum limits the ability to analyze within-urban dynamics, to make cross-city comparisons, and to produce generalizable results. In the framework of remote sensing and geospatial analysis, we identify and define six fundamental aspects of urban form, which are organized within three overarching components. Materials, or the physical elements of the urban landscape, consists of three aspects (1) human constructed elements, (2) the soil-plant continuum, and (3) water elements. The second component is configuration, which includes the (4) two- and three-dimensional space and (5) spatial pattern of urban areas. Lastly, because of the dynamics of human activities and biophysical processes, an important final component is the change of urban form over (6) time. We discuss how a this urban form framework integrates into a broader discussion of urbanization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • GIS
  • Land cover
  • Land use
  • Remote sensing
  • Urban form
  • Urban materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Six fundamental aspects for conceptualizing multidimensional urban form: A spatial mapping perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this