54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
This paper presents the various analytical steps and methods which have led to the creation of a geodatabase of urban settlements in Europe based on the integration of contiguous 1x1 square km. grid cells with specific population thresholds, and the delimitation and classification of those among them that are considered "small and medium-sized towns" (SMST) in coherence with the standard classification already produced by organisms such as DG Regio and OECD. This exercise has been one of the key analytical dimension of the ESPON 2013 project "TOWN" on the role and performance of small and medium sized towns , and is meant to define and organise what is "urban" ? and what, in this context, is a small and medium sized town. However functional to subsequent tasks, this geomatic exercise is per se a relevant legacy of this project: from a methodological point of view, because it contributes towards the generation of a geo-database at the finest spatial scale beyond the limitations of unevenness in scale, nomenclature, and political status, which is known to affect spatial analysis carried out at the "traditional" administrative levels of NUTS2/3 or even LAU2. From a scientific point of view, because it provides a first impression of territorial structures of urbanisation throughout Europe, at different scales: the pan-European, illustrating the diversity of the European space in terms of the prevailing settlement types and their territorial distribution; the regional, especially in relation to urban and metropolitan systems, their compactness and nuclear form; and the local, which looks at the inner structure of urban settlements. This paper will focus especially on such scientific results. It will present different typologies of Small and medium-sized town which challenge established notions (from an administrative and an employment-based perspective) of what in fact is a town, and will attempt at a synthesis between these perspectives based on the degree of matching between morphologically defined towns and other ?urban nomenclatures' in a number of case studies, carried out within the TOWN project.
Urban areas geomatic methods urbanisation morphology ESPON