The (Evolving) urban footprint under sequential building cycles and changing socio-demographic contexts

Ilaria Zambon, Pere Serra, Luca Salvati*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Total and per-capita urbanization rates are increasingly divergent worldwide, indicating an accelerated land consumption and an increased ecological footprint of cities. Under the hypothesis that spatio-temporal divides in total and per-capita urbanization rates are representative of the evolving urban footprint, this study proposed a multivariate analysis of land consumption spatial patterns in a southern European city (Athens, Greece) throughout a building cycle (1948–2015) reflecting sequential waves of economic expansion and stagnation. The footprint's spatial structure was investigated along the urban gradient using descriptive statistics, mapping, multivariate techniques and inferential approaches. The increase of total and per-capita built-up area over time followed a non-linear trend as a result of distinct growth waves. Socioeconomic profiles of municipalities with diverging (total and per-capita) urbanization rates changed over the study period as a result of joint transformations in metropolitan form and functions. Population aging, land-use diversification, vertical profile of buildings and a viable agricultural sector were associated to a low divergence between total and per-capita urbanization rates. Results of our study indicate that effective policies for sustainable development of fringe districts may incorporate urban containment strategies based on specific measures: (i) supporting settlement densification, (ii) stimulating brownfield recovery and (iii) concentrating new development in already fragmented, low-quality land, taking account of the background socioeconomic context and the demographic structure of local communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Indicators
  • Land consumption
  • Mediterranean
  • Spatial mismatch
  • Urbanization


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