Beyond urban–rural dichotomies

Measuring urbanisation degrees in central European landscapes using the technomass as an explicit indicator

Location of the case study within Europe. a) Land cover map of Ostrava and Katowice according to the Urban Atlas

Assistant professor of urban planning Zoé Hamstead and collaborators use the Technomass indicator to depict urbanization as a continuous variable.

Urbanization is transforming landscapes across the world. As the urban matrix is extending across all landscape types, new spatial configurations have blurred the former contrast between urban and non-urban land uses. The spatial complexity of urbanization challenges current landscape-scale assessments based on land cover methods and standard Boolean classifications of urban–rural.

In this study, we quantify urbanization as a continuous spatial process based on Technomass, a three-dimensional indicator that accounts for anthropogenic material stocks in the form of buildings and technical infrastructures. The aim is to perform a spatially explicit quantification of urbanization degrees across the landscape by more accurately capturing the volumes of different types of anthropogenic stocks. The use of the technomass as an explicit indicator can more accurately describe the complex spatial structure of urbanization. This allows a robust characterization of urbanization degrees at the landscape scale, useful for different ecological assessments.

The research was conducted in the functional urban areas of Ostrava (Czech Republic) and Katowice (Poland), where cross-boundary asymmetric landscape configurations can be observed. This spatial characterization of urbanization can help to improve innovative and inter-disciplinary approaches used in landscape ecology, urban ecology, industrial ecology and spatial planning.


Luis Inostrozaab
Institute of Geography, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
Universidad Autónoma de Chile

Zoé Hamstead
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UB

Marcin Spyra
Department of Sustainable Landscape Development, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Department of Architecture and Urbanism, Opole University of Technology, Poland

Salman Qureshi
Department of Geography, Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
School of Architecture, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom


Ecological Indicators

Date Published