Exploring the Historical Determinants of Urban Growth Patterns through Cellular Automata


Kiril Stanilov, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK. E-mail kiril.stanilov@gmail.com


We have adapted METRONAMICA, an established cellular automata (CA) modelling system, to simulate the historical growth of a section of a large world city. Our model is tuned to reflect the morphology of land use patterns more accurately than traditional CA models, which abstract those patterns to more aggregate spatial scales. We explore the spatial determinants of land use patterns with detailed empirical data, documenting the historical growth of West London at an unusually high level of spatial and temporal resolution. The results of the study provide support for our considered speculations: (1) that the spatial relationships between land uses and the physical environment are remarkably consistent through time, showing little variation relative to changes in historical context; and (2) that these relationships constitute a basic code for urban growth which determines the spatial signature of land development in a given metropolitan area.