51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Far from a typical Mediterranean model, today is practically impossible not to discuss European cities without taking into account phenomena of urban sprawl, which bring at dynamics of dispersion of artificial soil in rural areas, discontinuously but plentiful. Excessive alternating between urban and non-urban, more and more difficult to identify, currently configured natural space around cities such as residual areas between built structures. New 'urban forms' are drawing new Mediterranean cities, which were dominated by the compactness of the urban fabric, while now are result of the sum of peri-urban areas, dispersed and with low density. The spatial relationships between full and empty spaces, in terms of distances between urbanized polygons, and physical and functional hierarchies, make part of a semantic code which is often used to define conceptually the contemporary urban environment. Based on theoretical concepts about urban sprawl, land consumption and population density, this study aims to provide a methodology for automatic classification of urban development models and, through a temporary cut, dynamically analyze the changes that have occurred in the patterns of urban growth in the last two decades and along the Spanish Mediterranean coastline. The paper examines the regions of Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia and the Balearic Islands and takes into account three temporal stages of urban development, 1990, 2000, 2006, by using database of CORINE Land Cover and INE data. We apply quantitative indices of urban morphology and density on these database, and through statistical analysis and GIS technologies, automatically we classify types of spatial and temporal behaviours of urban models by using correlation index. The examination of growth models finally gives us useful information concerning the assessment of sustainability characteristics and future development prospects in an area heavily pressured by human intervention.