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Measuring and Limiting Urban Sprawl


The sprawling, contourless growth of settlements not only has negative ecological, economic and social effects, it also contradicts the principle of sustainability. Although initial measures have already been taken to halt urban sprawl in Switzerland, the pressure on the remaining undeveloped landscape is intensifying. There is therefore an urgent need for action.



The project presents measures and objectives for controlling sprawl for Switzerland, its cantons and municipalities. How has urban sprawl developed recently? How can numerical target and threshold values for urban sprawl be determined? Which spatial planning measures have led in the past to documented positive trends in urban sprawl values in certain municipalities and cities? How can planning policies support municipalities, cantons and the Confederation in achieving target and threshold values? The project answers these and other questions.

With the aid of the "weighted urban proliferation WUP" measurement method, the urban sprawl can be shown spatially explicit at any point in time so that its temporal development becomes apparent. This allows to quantitatively checking the effectiveness of spatial planning measures with regard to urban sprawl for the first time. The analysis of the most recent development of urban sprawl in Switzerland reveals spatial disparities. Based on this, the project makes proposals for numerical target and threshold values for urban sprawl. It also shows how the numerical target and threshold values could be implemented in spatial planning legislation and how selected communities have been able to keep their sprawl in check in the past.


The project results were published in late summer 2018 as a volume of the Bristol series.



Die Berechnung der neusten Entwicklung der Zersiedelung zeigt räumliche Disparitäten auf. Basierend darauf macht das Buch Vorschläge zu Ziel- und Grenzwerten und stellt dar, wie diese Vorschläge in der raumplanerischen Gesetzgebung umgesetzt werden könnten.

Bristol-Schriftenreihe 57