Compact city and urban planning : Correlation between density and local amenities

Teemu Jama*, Henrikki Tenkanen, Henrik Lönnqvist, Anssi Joutsiniemi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Many scholars and planners emphasise the role of compact cities in sustainable urban development. Compact urban form is seen as a way to encourage people, for example, to drive less and walk more, which reduces transport-related GHG emissions. This argument, however, is strongly dependent on local amenity development that can support such local living. In plan-making, a common practice is to try to ensure the realisation of services with a high Gross Floor Area (GFA) residential infill development to raise the local population density. In this paper we are seeking quantitative insight on the resolution under which urban density, as measured by GFA volume, correlates with the growth of urban amenities and liveability. Specifically, we are seeking the direction in which correlation changes when moving from a larger geographical scale (low resolution) towards a smaller scale (high resolution) of walkable reach. Our study shows a clear correlation between urban amenities and planned GFA at low-resolution scales, but that correlation decreases at higher-resolution scales (walkable neighbourhood level), indicating that urban amenities tend to cluster in different locations than density is planned. Based on these findings, we argue that, if the aim of urban planning is to foster the growth of local amenities, it should shift its focus towards larger patterns of urban development rather than emphasising GFA in detailed plan-making.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • climate change
  • compact city
  • spatial analysis
  • urban density
  • urban design
  • Urban planning


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