PhD Thesis: Polycentricity and Sustainable Urban Form in London

Greater London office and retail floor space 3D density map

After four-and-half years of exploring, analysing, procrastinating, and writing, writing, writing, it’s finally done. Here’s the abstract:

“This research thesis is an empirical investigation of how changing patterns of employment geography are affecting the transportation sustainability of the London region. Contemporary world cities are characterised by high levels of economic specialisation between intra-urban centres, an expanding regional scope, and market-led processes of development. These issues have been given relatively little attention in sustainable travel research, yet are increasingly defining urban structures, and need to be much better understood if improvements to urban transport sustainability are to be achieved.

London has been argued to be the core of a polycentric urban region, and currently there is mixed evidence on the various sustainability and efficiency merits of more decentralised urban forms. The focus of this research is to develop analytical tools to investigate the links between urban economic geography and transportation sustainability; and apply these tools to the case study of the London region. An innovative methodology for the detailed spatial analysis of urban form, employment geography and transport sustainability is developed for this research, with a series of new application of GIS and spatial data to urban studies.”

PDF version here. If you are keen/crazy enough to want to print this monster then you have my eternal respect and can try the double sided PDF version here.

Many thanks to my supervisors Mike Batty and Andy Hudson-Smith for making this research possible, along with friends past and present at CASA who contribute to a great research centre.

I’ll be highlighting findings and developing the ideas from the research- particularly the themes of urban sustainability, the built-environment, transport, economic change, and urban GIS- here on this blog over the coming weeks. This will include some of the interesting visualisations created, such as the London urban density 3D map below.

Greater London office and retail floor space 3D density map



3 thoughts on “PhD Thesis: Polycentricity and Sustainable Urban Form in London

    1. Sure the bubble graph was done in Excel, based on data calculated in ArcGIS. It was quite awkward to get Excel to do the colour and size design correctly, so probably some more powerful software out there for this type of visualisation.

      1. Duncan,


        I was afraid you would say Excel. Awkward is an understatement. I am currently working on something similar in Excel and am becoming increasingly frustrated. I believe “R” is capable of such an output. May have to dabble a bit.

        Thanks much for your response.


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