This study aims to characterize urban spatial structure with respect to its multidimensionality. Using an encompassing data set of socioeconomic variables, as well as variables pertaining to the built environment, accessibility and land use, we suggest a quantitatively based urban (sub-)
center typology. The fine-grained spatial scale of 1 km2 grid cells permits a higher spatial resolution than that used in most previous studies. Our suggested typology is two-layered: a “macro layer” based on cluster analyses sheds light on urban spatial configurations.
A corresponding threshold-based “micro layer” identifies distinctive types of centers and subcenters at the local level. The application of this multi-scale and multivariate typology to four German city regions indicates both the core cities’ morphological dominance and the
formation of subcenters with distinct profiles of regional economic importance, land use patterns and urban form. However, a substantial degree of spatial dispersion is observed because much activity is located in non-central locations.
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