TOPOI – A method for analysing settlement units and their linkages in an urban–rural fabric

Vanessa Carlow, Olaf Mumm, Dirk Neumann, Anne Kathrin Schneider, Boris Schröder, Maycon Sedrez, Ryan Zeringue

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Many years, urbanisation research has largely focused the development of urban agglomerations and megacity regions, whereas less attention was paid on the development of medium-sized cities, small towns, villages, or rural areas. Yet many interrelations and spatial linkages between urban and rural areas exist. In this paper, we present a novel method called ‘TOPOI’ for the integrated analysis and description of settlement units in an urban–rural setting. The TOPOI-method enhances the understanding of the built environment by clustering and describing settlement units of similar characteristics with view to their physical form, function, and connectivity. The method is built on known planning parameters, but does not limit the analysis of settlement units to their administrative boundaries. Based on 11 indicators, 13 TOPOI-classes were identified in two exemplary study regions revealing new insights into urban–rural settlement types. This allows a better understanding of urban–rural linkages and therefore opens up new pathways for a more sustainable development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1663-1681
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Issue number6
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Sustainable urban and rural development
  • TOPOI-method
  • classification of settlement types
  • geospatial analysis
  • urban–rural linkages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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