Research article

Urban identity

A city's character is closely related to its real estate values.

Urban form is at the heart of a city’s identity. Street layout and building densities, coupled with the amount and arrangement of open space, has a direct impact on residents’ quality of life, a city’s economic prosperity, and the ability to conduct social, political and cultural activity. It is a particularly important factor in real estate value as occupiers are attracted by – and will pay for – these attributes.

Our 12 cities have distinctive qualities. Dubai has developed rapidly but is, surprisingly, characterised as among the least dense urban forms. Tall buildings in this city are as much about making a statement as making the best use of land: Dubai has 203 buildings over 150m in height (35-40 storeys) but a population density of only 16 people per hectare. High rise does not necessarily mean high density.

New York’s distinctive grid pattern is both high density (106 people per hectare) and high rise (230 buildings over 150m). Hong Kong boasts the most tall buildings of our 12 cities (293 over 150m), which is a necessity given its mountainous terrain and lack of developable land. London’s relatively dense network 
of streets, squares and parks achieves 53 people per hectare, while Haussmann’s Paris manages 37.





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World cities that are setting new records
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