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Measuring and preventing urban sprawl

Blick von Säli-Schlössli bei Olten auf Aarburg/Rothrist. (Foto: Klaus Ewald, 1999)
How can we measure the degree of urban sprawl?  (Photo: Klaus Ewald, 1999)
Zersiedelung - Formel
Interrelationships between the urban sprawl measurement categories (enlarge)

The "urban sprawl problem" is widely recognised today and is a topic in current political discussions (Revision of the Regional Land-Use Planning Law, Landscape Initiative)

New: The Urban Sprawl Metrics (USM) Toolset can be used the degree of urban sprawl of the landscape.

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Trends in housing development in Switzerland today are clearly in conflict with a sustainable regional planning. A reliable basis for zoning is needed to create legal certainty, to end the competition between municipalities for work opportunities and inhabitants, and to enable a better cooperation on sustainability.

Weighted urban proliferation

A NFP 54 project has managed to develop a method to measure urban sprawl to supplement intuitive assessments of sprawl with the measurable criteria: size of the residential area, dispersion of settlement areas and land use. The effects of each change in the settlement on urban sprawl can then be analysed and deduced in the planning phase, and objectively discussed.

The new formula for weighted urban proliferation provides policy makers and politicians with an instrument for setting future goals and for assessing measures to reduce sprawl.

Further information
WSL-Merkblatt Zersiedelung
  • Urban sprawl in Switzerland and recommendations for containing it in future, based on a new method for measuring sprawl, are  clearly explained in the WSL fact sheet Measuring and preventing urban sprawl (in German)
  • L'étalement urbain en Suisse - Impossible à freiner? Analyse quantitative de 1935 à 2002 et conséquences pour l'aménagement du territoire. Urban Sprawl in Switzerland - Unstoppable? Quantitative Analysis 1935 to 2002 and Implications for Regional Planning. Zurich, Bristol-Stiftung; Berne, Stuttgart, Vienna, Haupt. 216 p. 4 maps. Flyer/Order