Urban DNA: Morphogenetic Analysis of Urban Pattern

H. Serdar Kaya, Fulin Bölen


Urban pattern is the result of a dynamic transformation process, which can follow two different trajectories: planned interventions generally produces clear geometrical patterns in large areas, however, unplanned transformation process needs more time and has relatively smaller and partial effects on the urban pattern but creates more complex urban patterns. Highly complex spatial structure of urban pattern governed by local and global forces should be analyzed via advanced methods that corresponds the complexity of the pattern. Analyses of the dynamic structure of the multidimensional urban system shows the necessity of using advanced methods and several parameters together.

The aim of this paper is developing a new method to analyze and represent highly complex urban pattern via evaluating geometrical, topological, and mathematical parameters to evaluate essential characteristics of cities.

Physical space is analyzed by ‘geometrical parameters’, ‘topological parameters’, ‘parameters related to use and perception’ and ‘parameters related to complexity’. Calculation results gives two main information about urban structure: Firstly, values gives information about spatial characteristics and diversity of urban pattern. Secondly, the spatial distribution map of changing urban pattern reflects the unique structure of settlements, which resembles DNA of living creatures.

In this paper, Istanbul was selected as case study area because of the rich historical background and dynamic urban growth process resulting various types of settlements including historical settlements, old villages, unplanned development, squatter areas and gated communities with different densities.

As the proposed model shows essential morphological characteristics of urban pattern as a morphological DNA, outputs of this model has a potential to be used in different areas such as comparative analysis of geometrically different cities, analyzing irregularities in urban pattern, controlling growth and density by controlling parameter values, creating urban sub-systems by combining components in different scales.



Fractal geometry, lacunarity, space syntax, urban pattern

Full Text:



Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S., & Silverstein, M. (1977). A pattern language: towns, buildings, construction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ashihara, Y. (1983). The Aesthetic Townscape. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bacon, E. N. (1975). Design of cities: Thames and Hudson London.

Bar-Yam, Y. (2003). Dynamics of Complex Systems: Westview Press.

Batty, M. (2008). Generating Cities from the Bottom-Up: Using Complexity Theory for Effective Design. Cluster. Retrieved from http://www.cluster.eu/v2/editions/batty/

Batty, M., & Rana, S. (2004). The automatic definition and generation of axial lines and axial maps. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 31, 615-640.

Boccaletti, S., Latora, V., Moreno, Y., Chavez, M., & Hwang, D. U. (2006). Complex networks: Structure and dynamics. Physics Reports, 424(4-5), 175-308.

Bolliger, J., Lischke, H., & Green, D. G. (2005). Simulating the spatial and temporal dynamics of landscapes using generic and complex models. Ecological Complexity, 2(2), 107-116.

Çağdaş, G. (1996). A shape grammar: the language of traditional Turkish houses. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 23, 443-464.

Chen, Y., & Zhou, Y. (2003). The rank-size rule and fractal hierarchies of cities: mathematical models and empirical analyses. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 30, 799-818.

Chen, Y., & Zhou, Y. (2004). Multi-fractal measures of city-size distributions based on the three-parameter Zipf model. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 22(4), 793-805.

Chen, Y., & Zhou, Y. (2008). Scaling laws and indications of self-organized criticality in urban systems. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 35(1), 85-98.

Cheng, Q. (1999). Multifractality and spatial statistics. Computers & Geosciences, 25(9), 949-961.

Figueiredo, L., & Amorim, L. (2005). Continuity lines in the axial system. Paper presented at the Proceedings 5th International Symposium on Space Syntax, Delft University of Technology, Delft.

Filho, M. B., & Sobreira, F. (2005). Assessing Texture Pattern in Slums Across Scales. Casa Working Paper Series, No. 87. Centre for Advanced Planning Analysis, University College London. London. Retrieved from http://www.casa.ucl.ac.uk/working_papers/paper87.pdf

Frankhauser, P. (1998a). The Fractal Approach. A New Tool for the Spatial Analysis of Urban Agglomerations. Population: An English Selection, 10(1), 205-240.

Frankhauser, P. (1998b). Fractal geometry of urban patterns and their morphogenesis. Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society, 2(2), 127-145.

Franz, G., & Wiener, J. M. (2008). From space syntax to space semantics: a behaviorally and perceptually oriented methodology for the efficient description of the geometry and topology of environments. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 35, 574-592.

Giritlioğlu, C. (1991). Şehirsel Mekan Öğeleri ve Tasarımı. Istanbul, Turkey: İ. T. Ü Mimarlık Fakültesi Yayınları.

Haag, G. (1994). The Rank-Size Distribution Of Settlements As A Dynamic Multifractal Phenomenon. Chaos Solitons & Fractals, 4(4), 519-534.

Helbing, D. (1998). Models for Pedestrian Behavior. Arxiv preprint cond-mat/9805089.

Hillier, B. (1996). Space is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hillier, B. (1999). The hidden geometry of deformed grids: or, why space syntax works, when it looks as though it shouldn't. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 26, 169-191.

Hillier, B., & Hanson, J. (1984). The social logic of space: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Hillier, B., Leaman, A., Stansall, P., & Bedford, M. (1976). Space syntax. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 3, 147-185.

Kalaycı, Ş. (Ed.) (2005). SPSS uygulamalı çok değişkenli istatistik teknikleri. Ankara: Asil Yayın Dağıtım Ltd.Şti.

Kaya, H. S. (2003). Evaluating Richness Of Urban Space By Using Chaos Theory And Fractal Geometry. (Masters thesis), Istanbul Technical University, İstanbul.

Kaya, H. S. (2010). A quantitative method proposal for the analysis of the dynamic structure of urban pattern. (PhD Thesis), Istanbul.

Kaya, H. S., & Bölen, F. (2006). Kentsel Mekan Organizasyonundaki Farklılıkların Fraktal Analiz Yöntemi ile Değerlendirilmesi. Journal of İstanbul Kültür University, 4(4), 153-172.

Kim, Y. O., & Penn, A. (2004). Linking the Spatial Syntax of Cognitive Maps to the Spatial Syntax of the Environment. Environment and Behavior, 36(4), 483-504. doi:10.1177/0013916503261384

Kruger, M. J. T. (1989). On node and axial grid maps: distance measures and related topics. Paper presented at the European Conference on the Representation and Management of Urban Change, Cambridge, UK.

Krüger, M. J. T. (1979). An approach to buiIt-form connectivity at an urban scale: variations of connectivity and adjacency measures amongst zones and other related topics. Environment and Planning B, 6, 305-320.

Krüger, M. J. T. (1980). An approach to built-form connectivity at an urban scale: relationships between built-form connectivity, adjacency measures, and urban spatial structure. Environment and Planning B, 7, 163-194.

Kubat, A. S. (1997). The morphological characteristics of Anatolian fortified towns. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 24, 95-123.

Kubat, A. S., Kaya, H. S., Sari, F., Guler, G., & Ozer, O. (2007, 12-15 June). The Effects Of Proposed Bridges On Urban Macroform Of Istanbul: a syntactic evaluation. Paper presented at the 6th International Space Syntax Symposium, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Mandelbrot, B. B. (1977). Fractals: Form, Chance, and Dimension. San Francisco, ABD: WH Freeman.

Mandelbrot, B. B. (1982). The Fractal Geometry of Nature. NY, ABD: WH Freeman.

Mandelbrot, B. B., Frame, M., & Robert, A. M. (2001). Fractals Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology (pp. 185-207). New York: Academic Press.

Peitgen, H. O., Jürgens, H., & Saupe, D. (2004). Chaos and Fractals: New Frontiers of Science: Springer Verlag Press.

Salingaros, N. A. (2000). Complexity and Urban Coherence. Journal of Urban Design, 5(3), 291-316.

Salingaros, N. A. (2003). Connecting the fractal city. Keynote speech, 5th Biennial of town planners in Europe, Barcelona.

Salingaros, N. A., & West, B. J. (1999). A universal rule for the distribution of sizes. Environment, 26, 909-923.

Schroder, C., Mackaness, W., & Reitsma, F. (2007, 11-13th April 2007). Quantifying Urban Visibility Using 3D Space Syntax. Paper presented at the Geographic Information Science research conference (GISRUK), Maynooth, Ireland.

Stamps, A. E. I. (2003). Advances in visual diversity and entropy. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 30, 449-463.

Steadman, P. (1983). Architectural Morphology: An Introduction to the Geometry of Building Plans. London: Pion Ltd.

Stiny, G. (1980). Introduction to shape and shape grammars. Environment and Planning B, 7, 343-351.

Stiny, G., & Gips, J. (1971). Shape Grammars and The Generative Specification Of Painting and Sculpture. Paper presented at the Information Processing: Proceedings of IFIP Congress, Netherlands.

Teller, J. (2003). A spherical metric for the field-oriented analysis of complex urban open spaces. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 30, 339-356.

Topcu, M., & Kubat, A. S. (2012). Old and new city: morphological analysis of Antakya. Paper presented at the 8th International Space Syntax Symposium.

Turner, A. (2001). Depthmap: A program to perform visibility graph analysis. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 3rd Space Syntax Symposium.

Turner, A., Doxa, M., O Sullivan, D., & Penn, A. (2001). From isovists to visibility graphs: a methodology for the analysis of architectural space. Environment and Planning B, 28(1), 103-122.

Volchenkov, D., & Blanchard, P. (2008). Scaling and universality in city space syntax: Between Zipf and Matthew. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 387(10), 2353-2364.

Wilson, A. G. (2002). Complex spatial systems: Challenges for modellers. Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 36(3), 379-387.

Wu, X. B., & Sui, D. Z. (2001). An initial exploration of a lacunarity-based segregation measure. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 28, 433-446.

Wurster, C. B. (1969) Cities and Space: The Future Use of Urban Land: The Book is based on 1962 RFF (Resources For The Future) Forum on The Future Use of Urban Space. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press.

Xu, Y. (2005). Explanation of scaling phenomenon based on fractal fragmentation. Mechanics Research Communications, 32(2), 209-220.

Zacharias, J. (1999). Preferences for view corridors through the urban environment. Landscape and Urban Planning, 43(4), 217-225.

Zipf, G. K. (1972). Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort. New York: Hafner Publishing Company.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15320/ICONARP.2017.15

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Iconarp International Journal of Architecture and Planning

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

                                                                                     INDEXES & DATABASES:

                            ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning is an OAJ supported by Selcuk University, ©2017,