In praise of (spatial) bundles
ARRIBAS-BEL, D., FLEISCHMANN, M. (2023): In praise of (spatial) bundles. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 51, 1, 3-6.
Systematic characterisation of the way cities look and the composition of their fabric form much of the “bread and butter” of this journal. In this editorial, we focus attention on an approach to classifying the (urban) landscape that we call spatial bundles - a mixture of the combination and arrangement of a series of lower-level atomic units. From the geodemographic classification of populations to the definition of functional areas based on activity spaces, exploring how (new) data and methods can be combined to produce increasingly more detailed, timely, and accurate representations of cities is what EP-B is all about. These endeavours are also sorely needed. There is much we do not know about how cities combine their ingredients (built environment, people, opportunity) to result in more than the sum of their parts; and there is much of that “recipe” we need to change through design, policy, and development if we are to make cities work for the next century, which will be dominated by climate and social change. Much (though not all!) of this understanding starts from quantitative representations that capture the elements of interest. It is not always true that, paraphrasing the famous management motto, you can only improve what you measure, but it is true that granular, timely and accurate evidence helps, sometimes decisively. For this editorial, we suggest that there is value in a new breed of classifications that we term spatial bundles. These are not entirely new, and we are certainly not the first ones to suggest their existence. But the recent appearance of new sources of data is making them more feasible and useful. We are convinced there is enough untapped potential in this approach that warrants calling the attention of the EP-B community and embedding some of their features in common practice.