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Swede Jan 5, 2010 11:39 PM

Suburban Europe
Europe is often seen as a utopia of urban-ness by some, but let's be realistic and look at how much of our metros are actually suburban in nature and by that I mean what the built environment is like, not how political borders are drawn. Some of it is American-style suburbia, some is commie-block 'hoods and some is actually old villages/towns that have expanded a bit while being swallowed into a commuter-belt.

My own city, Stockholm, is known for it's medieval Old Town (which barely has any medieval buildings at all) and scenic urban core but the urban core is home to just 15% of the metro population (the metro is less dense than the Netherlands). This might be a bit extreme for a European city, but I don't think it's all that extreme.

So how do the 85% of us who live in suburbs live? it's fairly evenly split between single family houses + rowhouses and multifamily housing in modernist enclaves. Result: segregation is high and increasing as nowhere near enough new housing is built for all the people moving here.

How are your cities built? how big are the suburban areas, how urban are they?

FREKI Jan 6, 2010 12:13 AM


Originally Posted by Swede (Post 4636055)
How are your cities built? how big are the suburban areas, how urban are they?

Copenhagen is about 80% suburban in terms of land and of it's 1,9mil in the metro a good 1,3mil live in single family houses..

The split came at around 1900 where wars wasn't seen as imminant and finaces were okay and rail allowed for easy movement so they started expanding the city rapidly and the ground value far out allowed people to build houses for themself that would never have been posible closer to the center..

New Brisavoine Jan 6, 2010 4:00 PM

^^You guys have to define your criteria a bit more, otherwise the % mean nothing.

Let's take for example as a criteria the % of people who live in individual houses (individual house here means a house that can be either standing alone/detached or built next to other houses, as in semi-detached and townhouses/terrace houses). In other words, the % of people who live in dwellings where they have no neighbors above or below them.

In the Paris metropolitan area, at the 2006 census, 35% of the 11.8 million people in the metro area lived in individual houses (the rest lived in apartments, condos, commie blocks, student dorms, hostels, homeless shelters, prisons, in the streets, etc.)

Here are the figures for the major metropolitan areas of France.

Percentage of people living in individual houses in 2006:
Lille metro area: 68%
Bordeaux metro area: 66%
Nantes metro area: 66%
Toulouse metro area: 61%
Lyon metro area: 41%
Strasbourg metro area: 40%
Marseille metro area: 40%
Paris metro area: 35%
Nice metro area: 32%

Swede Jan 6, 2010 5:33 PM

Whats' the lay-out of the Paris suburbs generally? how far out does one have to go for the legendary urbanity to be replaced by commieblocks or modernist (anti-)urban planning?

Stockholm has a very well defined urban core which was mostly built before 1930, it is only in the last decade or so that building anything urban has been done again in Stockholm. The decades since 1930 - and by far the majority today - is modernist enclaves spread out along subway & commuter rail lines and motorways. The original idea was for these suburbs to function as small towns of their own but it never worked and even the planners said that "at least the City isn't far away by subway" (fairly direct quote, that). Then it just kept going, commieblock 'burb after rowhouse 'burb after commie block 'burb... with a splotches of detached single famliy houses. All only connected to the outside by a couple of roads and some of the time subways.

New Brisavoine Jan 7, 2010 5:30 PM


Originally Posted by Swede (Post 4637120)
how far out does one have to go for the legendary urbanity to be replaced by commieblocks or modernist (anti-)urban planning?

At the shortest, 3 km from the center, but on average you have to go 5 to 6 km from the center.

FREKI Jan 7, 2010 7:30 PM


Originally Posted by New Brisavoine (Post 4636993)
You guys have to define your criteria a bit more, otherwise the % mean nothing.



Better? :)

New Brisavoine Jan 7, 2010 8:37 PM

^^There are lots of situations in between. ;)

Plus what do the % refer to? Land area covered? or the number of people who live there?

FREKI Jan 8, 2010 5:53 AM


Originally Posted by New Brisavoine (Post 4639327)
There are lots of situations in between. ;)

Not really in Copenhagen's case..

We have apartment buildings of 4-7 floors and we have single family houses..

Sure you'll find an apartment building some places in the suburbs and you will find some single family houses around in the city but overall it's pretty devided and as shown above ( feel free to see for yourself )


Originally Posted by New Brisavoine (Post 4639327)
Plus what do the % refer to? Land area covered?

Yes, as I said in my post around 80% of Copenhagen area is suburban in the way shown above and the rest is apartment buildings..

Apartment buildings usually have between 20 and 40 apartments depending on lenghts and height

Some mood shots :)

Swede Jan 8, 2010 10:13 AM





rough estimates only, there's commie block areas that look much nicer and this is by how many live where - NOT area covered.

New Brisavoine Jan 9, 2010 9:59 PM

You guys still haven't specified whether these % correspond to the number of people who live there or to the land area covered by these neighborhoods.

FREKI Jan 10, 2010 4:07 AM

^I've said it twice now that the 80% is for the land occupied by suburban urbanity aka single family houses - and I've given you the link to Bing Maps to go see for yourself..

And I've given you a rough estimate of how 1,3 of the 1,9mil are living in single family houses..

If that is not enough you need to be specific about what it is you want from me...

ue Jan 10, 2010 4:29 AM

Interesting thread. I can't really contribute much as my city is already known for it's sprawl and is North American. But, I've seen suburbs in Europe and they look just as bad (or if anything slightly better but not much) as American. But, I never knew so much of cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, etc. were like this. Especially cities that are very liberal (which tends to mean focus on urban centres than suburbs, see Seattle, NYC, Madison, Boston, Vancouver, etc. vs Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, etc.) or in liberal areas. And not to mention the fact that land is less scarce than wide open America or Canada or Austr.

FREKI Jan 10, 2010 5:28 AM

^one's ideology shouldn't affect one's liking of having space and nature around one.. :)

I'm not a suburb person myself, but for families with children I think it's a great thing.. :)

ue Jan 10, 2010 5:32 AM

^I guess. It's just liberal minded folks tend to be "going green" and about sustainability, environment, etc. and think suburbs are bad for the environment rather than conservatives.

FREKI Jan 10, 2010 8:32 AM

^I think that's a US thing - here in Denmark suburbs aren't frowned upon - quite the opposite where it's seen as a way to get out into nature with trees and flowers and lawns and lakes nearby etc etc..

SHiRO Jan 19, 2010 12:55 AM

Excellent thread on suburbs in the Netherlands:

FREKI Jan 20, 2010 5:14 AM

^the Dutch suburbs looks really good from above and have definitely influenced many of the newer projects up here..

FREKI Jan 22, 2010 9:10 PM

Google Streetview now covers nearly all of Denmark including all of Copenhagen's suburbs so those interested in can take a look,0.057292&z=15

Swede Jan 23, 2010 12:49 PM

Copenhagen suburbia, while looking more sprawly than Stockholm's at first glance, does on a closer look seem to me to be far more a continuous integrated street-grid. Stockholm suburbia can be defined as enclave after enclave of either row-houses/villas or commie-blocks/post-commie-blocks. very, very rarely does one suburbs layout integrate with anything other then a freeway or commuter-rail/subway. Here the suburbs are pretty much all introverted with "green connections" in between, "green connections" that act almost invariably as barriers (which was the original intention!). The modernist suburbia has been realized in Stockholm in all it's sprawly magnificence and this is sadly still how 95+% of Stockholm planning is done even today.

FREKI Jan 24, 2010 12:26 PM

^it's pretty funny how two so simular nations and cultures and gone in fairly separate directions when it comes to suburban city building..

( but of course the difference in terrain is also a factor )

I see Sweden too is covered by Google Streetview now - just took a virtual walk around Kista like back at the 08 meet :),,0,-16.52

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