Typological atlases of block and block-face

Alice Vialard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The classification of blocks and block-faces according to several morphological characteristics is used in this paper as a basis for assessing urban form. Classification aggregates discrete data into categories which can subsequently become associated with specific considerations, requirements or solutions regarding city planning and design (Steadman, Bruhns et al. 2000). The issue, then, is to present similarities, co-variations or contingencies in a meaningful and legible manner so that the resulting typology of urban conditions can support planning or design actions. The intent is to represent and characterize urban units according to numerical profiles and to group them into clusters, using the k-means method (Gil, Beirão et al. 2012). As a second step, clusters are depicted on maps to produce typological atlases. They serve to assess existing urban conditions or test future urban conditions. Two typological atlases are proposed. The first concerns the morphology of blocks based on shape and size; the second concerns block-faces as the interface between street and building, coalescing external and internal loads. Syntactic measures such as metric and directional reach (Peponis, Bafna et al. 2008) characterise the external load exercised by the street system and morphological measures such as setbacks and building frontages (Talen 2005; Oliveira 2013) represent the internal load exerted by buildings. The typological atlases help visualize the prevailing building and street patterns and facilitate the evaluation of urban conditions so as to distinguish between saturated areas and areas with greater potential for future development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOur Common Future in Urban Morphology
PublisherFaculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto
ISBN (Print)978-972-99101-6-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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