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The Fuzzy Boundary: The Spatial Definition of Urban Areas

Yang, Tao; (2019) The Fuzzy Boundary: The Spatial Definition of Urban Areas. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Can urban areas – such as named areas – as parts of a whole city be defined and described in terms of their relationship to the surroundings? How is the continuous urban grid spatially partitioned into different parts? These questions have been extensively discussed in the theoretical and professional literatures, but there is a relative paucity of references of any precision to the spatial form of areas. The thesis, using a rigorous and empirical methodology developed in the theory of space syntax, seeks to define boundaries between urban areas in terms of the way the areas are spatially embedded into the multi-scale contexts. And then the thesis intends to explore geometric and spatial mechanisms in the formation of the areas. After conducting a pilot study of Canary Wharf and Brindleyplace, the thesis conjectures that area boundaries can be treated as discontinuities in the configuration of space, and such boundaries are shown in some way in the pattern of spatial connection of the urban grid outward from each individual space with an increase of scale, ranging from its immediately neighbouring spaces to the whole grid. Several space syntax techniques are then developed to detect and illustrate the area discontinuities. On this basis, a periodic patchwork pattern, meaning the urban grid, is partitioned into a set of periodic and discrete parts, is brought to light in the empirical studies of the central districts of London and Beijing as well as the London Docklands. It can be argued that the discontinuities between urban areas can be typically considered as the fuzzy boundaries supporting functional differentiation of areas, without spatially self-contained or geometrically limited boundaries. This thesis concludes that it is the syntactic relations of all individual spaces and their multi-scale contexts that account for the spatial definition and aggregation of urban areas.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Fuzzy Boundary: The Spatial Definition of Urban Areas
Event: UCL (University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10071875
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