Hampert, Klaus, Klaus Brenner and Sibylle Becker, (eds). Fundamental Principles of Urban Growth.
Article Type: Book Review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: van Vliet, David
Pub Date: 12/22/2003
Publication: Name: Canadian Journal of Urban Research Publisher: Institute of Urban Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2003 Institute of Urban Studies ISSN: 1188-3774
Issue: Date: Winter, 2003 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Fundamental Principles of Urban Growth (Book)
Persons: Reviewee: Hampert, Klaus; Brenner, Klaus; Becker, Sibylle
Accession Number: 115498165
Full Text: Hampert, Klaus, Klaus Brenner and Sibylle Becker, (eds) Fundamental Principles of Urban Growth. Wuppertal: Verlag Muuller + Busmann KG, 2002. ISBN 3-928766-51-1 191 pp.

This book reports on a research project at the University of Stuttgart (1990-97), which, using fractal concepts, looks at the structural features and kinetics of urban clusters. The research provides evidence for rules governing the urban growth of global cities, despite their differing economic, social and cultural development. According to the authors, in common settlement requirements are dependent on optimizing certain basic needs and desires within means and budget, pedestrian access to landscape, proximity to basic services and convenience to place of work. (The research and analysis for this project occurred prior to the more recently-acknowledged pattern of 'shrinking cities', two of which [Detroit and Manchester], are included in the study. Internal changes and restructuring--which would have revealed such shrinkage--are not a part of the investigations).

In order to follow its presentation, interpretation and conclusions, the book demands careful attention to terminology as well as the referencing of graphs and data. This effort is worthwhile, as the book addresses some broad questions and principles in spatial geography and urban form. The authors propose, through the use of rules and patterns in fractal geometry, that the edge-lengths of cities increase in proportion with their area, and that certain settlement forms produce more 'urban edge'. Cities in North-America and Central Europe, for instance, tend to be large and their edges strongly frayed. Asian cities, by contrast, are small, compact and densely settled. Australian cities are large and sparsely populated, and their edges are less frayed. In short, cities have a tendency to grow in a fractal nature, with patterns that continuously demonstrate increasing fragmentation and fraying of the outer edge.

While the authors offer only a partial explanation of expansion processes, the principle of constant edge-formation sheds light on understanding the City, as it demonstrates responsiveness to collective and multiple needs. These conclusions have implications for new forms and types of human landscape, and the authors suggest that growth processes can be controlled through the establishment of satellite cities.

Five related chapters by other authors follow. Joachim Greis evaluates the city plans, explaining the method used to generate the plans, as well as procedures, assumptions and limitations. Ines Wieland argues that a single common basis of generating plans is possible to increase precision and reliability. She recommends the production of settlement plans for all urban agglomerations, and monitoring growth and development at regular intervals. Frank Scweitzer and Jens Steinbrink refer to earlier quantitative analyses of a different data set of 60 metropolitan areas, showing a linear relation between settlement areas and total circumference. Pierre Frankhauser describes parallel research on fractal behaviour to frame this analysis, but the differing scope and conclusions are not clearly identified or revealed. Ulrich Kull summarises the broad anthropological patterns of human behaviour, querying a biological basis for urban growth.

The book starts with an introduction to the conception of urbanisation following fractal patterns, then lays out the presentation of data in readily comparable analysis format for 57 global conurbations, from Athens to Washington. Information for each city is presented on two facing pages. Having all plans at 1:500,000 scale provides a convenient source for area based comparisons. Nowhere though is there a list of cities included in the study. One must look at the summary analysis (in alphabetical order) to see that two Canadian cities, Toronto and Montreal, are included in the study. To facilitate easier recognition, it would have been helpful to clearly label each city on the summary graphs to make easier, accurate, comparison.

The rationale behind Fundamental Principles of Urban Growth is that, if we are to ever provide a suitable framework for the control of future regional and urban development, we need to gain a fundamental understanding of the general rules governing the growth process. This book contributes to the discussion on urban form and the requisite base of international evidence regarding the macrostructure of cities.

David van Vliet

City Planning

University of Manitoba
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.