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Mobaraki, A.; , .; Oktay Vehbi̇, B. Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 20 June 2024).
Mobaraki A,  , Oktay Vehbi̇ B. Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 20, 2024.
Mobaraki, Abdollah, , Beser Oktay Vehbi̇. "Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 20, 2024).
Mobaraki, A., , ., & Oktay Vehbi̇, B. (2022, March 31). Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form. In Encyclopedia.
Mobaraki, Abdollah, et al. "Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form." Encyclopedia. Web. 31 March, 2022.
Urban Morphology and Sustainable Urban Form

This qualitative grounded theory study is to unpack a conceptual model for assessing the interrelation between urban morphology and sustainable urban form. As it is cited in this entry, although numerous researches have been carried out on the topic of "sustainable urban form" and "urban morphology", yet, there seems to be a substantial gap in the study of the mutual relationship between the two. As the importance is not evaluated in the previous literature, there was no explored model to validate the relation. Consequently, this study was intended to gain a conceptual model of the necessity of conducting systematic model evaluations of sustainable urban form based on the typo morphology as a field of inquiry.

urban morphology sustainable urban form typo-morphology

1. Principles of Sustainable Urban Form (SUF)

Sustainable urbanism is required to be equipped with energy generation [1] and governance, water generation, waste management, design, engineering, architecture, equipment for sustainable construction and management of housing. Sustainable urban form, ideas, or principles are created and classified as: Greening, Mixed Land Uses, Sustainable Transport/Accessibility, Density, Passive Solar Design, Diversity, Permeability, Compactness, Legibility, and Imageability [2][3]. Each of these indicators has been considered to achieve sustainable urbanism.
The notion of SUF has been extensively discussed and is still under discussion. Alternatives include the compact city [4], decentralized concentration, remote new settlements [5] and multi-centric cities [6][7]. Jabareen [2] defines four types of SUF based on distinct design values; these sustainable urban types are Eco-City, Compact City, Urban Containment, and Neo-traditional Development.
As Silva [8] notes, the entire idea of the urban form depends upon three factors which are the arrangement, appearance, and functionality of the buildings and structures. Fast-growing cities, on the other hand, are exposed to non-sustainable building plans and developments that lead to the exhaustion of resources and infrastructure. These are the consequences of the ‘boom’ in the construction sector, which requires and demands excessive resources. The invasion of rural areas for building purposes leads to deforestation, which involves the removal of thousands of hectares of trees, which also requires the construction of extensive transportation infrastructures. Furthermore, the growth of urbanism may also destroy the identity of urban areas, which are supporting specific types of lifestyle and culture. Thus, SUF is one of the methods that can provide safe growth and change without compromising natural sources or affecting social identity and culture [9].
Oliveira [10] stated the city has a multilayer system that analyzes the relationships of the physical and spatial aspects through four primary morphological layers of urban form which are: plot, buildings, street, and open space. Tadi et al. [11] gathered sustainable urban principles, including the primary layer of the systematic interpretation of the morphological methods of the city. The integration of the keys, such as analytical tools, creates a relationship between the different layers to improve the performance of the whole system. Designers can use the keys whilst observing the process of design to analyze the context and the current condition and critical functionality of a city, before interfering.
These analytical tools which have been developed based on [12][13] comprise intensity (Density and Compactness), proximity (Sustainable Transport, Mixed Land Use), permeability, (imageability, legibility), Efficiency (greening, passive solar design), Accessibility (sustainable transport) and Diversity (legibility, mixed land use).
According to Jabareen [2], there are general standards for developing SUF, which are related to the principles of SUF and morphological layers. From this point of view, it is essential to find out the relations among these concepts to formulate analytical tools for assessing sustainability in an urban context. The analytical tools are related to all the indicators of urban form, sustainable urban types, and the dimensions of SUF. From this point of view, the combination is finding a connection amongst the global factors and design principles of SUF to devise analytical tools for sustainability in the urban form, related to all the indicators of urban form, sustainable urban types, and dimensions of SUF.

2. Urban Morphology

According to Conzen [14] “Urban morphology” (UM) is expressed as the study of the formation of the built environment and the process of changes related to the spatial study of urban structures, land use, construction, open spaces, and road patterns. In this regard, Cowan [15] stated that UM is “the study of urban form” and identified four broad approaches to UM namely: 1. Historico-geographical; 2. Typo-morphological; 3. Spatial-analytical; 4. Configurational. UM and SUF holds different meanings for urban planners and designers, especially in developing cities. Accordingly, morphological studies can be divided into four groups considering various disciplines as geography, architecture, science, and philosophy. In respect of urban geography, the Conzeniana school of thought acts as a representation of ideas [16]. Caniggian School plays an important role in the discipline of architecture. Bill Hillier’s Spatial Syntax explores the morphology of the city from a whole new perspective in the mathematical character that is related to power and science [17]. The philosophy of Henri Lefebvre (1901–1991) states that the urban area is not a neutral entity, it has a social existence and has designated areas to demonstrate or identify its society or culture.
The approaches to typo-morphology can be said to have arisen from an urban and architectural perspective as well as historical–geographic and environmental analytical methods, which are derived from the geography sector [18][19]. Because the typo-morphological (typological process) has its roots in the fields of architecture and urbanism, the study will focus on typo-morphological approach. Hence, the historical-geographical and spatial-analytical factors, which are from the field of geography, will be neglected. Furthermore, space or configurational syntax will not be used because it has a mathematical or scientific origin rather than an architectural one and because this study is focused on the field of architecture. Since geometric analysis is an integral part of UM, the current study will deal with this assessment to provide valuable information for analyzing the physical elements of urban environments.

Typo-Morphological Approach

Typo-morphological research has been used as a planning instrument throughout architectural history. The work of the Krier brothers [20] and Aldo Rossi [21] has been quite fruitful, especially in the context of the metropolitan fabric form, housing, and open spaces. As well as in respect to socioeconomic procedures. Typo-morphological surveys use construction information to define the city’s physical shape and the method of human habitat accumulation, which helps gain knowledge of the city’s three-dimensional structure and its fundamental development mechanism. As Moudon [22] notes: “typo-morphology provides a working definition of room and sort of construction, and acts as a wealthy starting point for learning the essence of building design, its connection with the town, and the community in which it occurs”. Typo-morphological surveys are therefore not only useful for analyzing current cities or urban areas, but also for building the theoretical basis for urban design planning [23]. The methods derived from the studies carried out by the Italian architect Saverio Muratori, and further established by his disciples, Gianfranco Caniggia and Gian Luigi Maffei, are highly significant. The typological method focuses on the hypothesis that, by evaluating construction as the operational unit of an assessment, altering trends in urban form can then be better understood. This means that the typo-morphological approach, when applied to individual buildings and towns, considers using the geometrical analysis method. The components constitute the construction products for individual buildings, the construction of components conforms to the walls and the organization of the buildings. For cities, the area is comparable to that of morphological analysis, i.e., housing, urban tissues, and the various types of arrangement of urban tissues in a region or district [22][24]. Geographical scientists generally adopt the morphological classification, but architects tend to adopt the typo-morphological classification.


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Subjects: Urban Studies
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