A global analysis of polycentric urban regions

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Urban and regional design, development and planning
urban regions
Project description

This project aims to contribute to the scientific literature on ‘polycentric urban regions’ (PURs). In its
most basic guise, the PUR notion applies to regions characterised by the presence of a set of nearby
cities that are of roughly equal importance. A well-known example is the Dutch Randstad, where
roughly equally-important cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Delft are
regionally clustered. In the scientific literature, PURs are hypothesized to be an increasingly
important type of regional formation. However, there is as yet no systematic ‘global map of PURs’
which would help substantiating such claim, while this absence of a global map makes it also
difficult to systematically assess all sorts of features that are commonly linked to PURs. This can in
turn be traced back to the well-known data complications involved in comparative urban research at
the global scale. In this project, we will develop the first-ever global mapping of PURs by applying
innovative algorithms to satellite images of population densities. Importantly, this mapping is not an
end-goal in and of itself, but rather a crucial step to provide the literature with an easily accessible
and state-of-the-art benchmark for situating research efforts. The project in and of itself will also
engage in such exercises, while results will be made available to the scientific and non-scientific
community alike by means of an interactive and state-of-the-art cartographic website.