TOPOI – A method for analysing settlement units and their linkages in an urban–rural fabric

Many years, urbanisation research has largely focused the development of urban agglomerations and megacity regions, whereas less attention was paid on the development of medium-sized cities, small towns, villages, or rural areas. Yet many interrelations and spatial linkages between urban and rural areas exist. In this paper, we present a novel method called ‘TOPOI’ for the integrated analysis and description of settlement units in an urban–rural setting. The TOPOI-method enhances the understanding of the built environment by clustering and describing  settlement units of similar characteristics with view to their physical form, function, and connectivity. The method is built on known planning parameters, but does not limit the analysis of settlement units to their administrative boundaries. Based on 11 indicators, 13 TOPOI-classes were identified in two exemplary study regions revealing new insights into urban–rural settlement types. This allows a better understanding of urban–rural linkages and therefore opens up new pathways for a more sustainable development.


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