Exploring the Historical Determinants of Urban Growth Patterns through Cellular Automata

Kiril Stanilov has adapted RIKS METRONAMICA, an established cellular automata (CA) modelling system, to simulate the historical growth of a section of a large world city. The focus is on simulating change from the late 19th century until the modern day for a slice of London from west of Paddington to the M25 orbital road.

The model is tuned to reflect the morphology of land use patterns more accurately than traditional CA models, which abstract those patterns to more aggregate spatial scales. We explore the spatial determinants of land use patterns with detailed empirical data, documenting the historical growth of West London at an unusually high level of spatial and temporal resolution. The results of the study provide support for our considered speculations:

  1. that the spatial relationships between land uses and the physical environment are remarkably consistent through time, showing little variation relative to changes in historical context; and
  2. that these relationships constitute a basic code for urban growth which determines the spatial signature of land development in a given metropolitan area.

Read the article on this project which is published in the current issue of Transactions in GIS

Here is the slice of west London which has been modelled

and here is a sample of the simulations that replicate the actual development over the last 130 years or so

Kiril works on the GeNESIS project and was a Marie Curie fellow in CASA from 2008-2010.