Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Towards a functional geometry of western Europe

Malcolm Burns


The European Commission’s spatial planning discourse places strong emphasis on the
development of a regionally balanced urban system, recognising the importance of towns, cities
and metropolitan urban regions in achieving the objectives of the revitalised Lisbon Agenda.
This paper draws upon network analysis to examine the functional relationships between a
sample of 28 European metropolitan urban regions, through an evaluation of air passenger
flows. The evaluation of these flows contributes to an enhanced understanding of the spatial
dynamics of the European metropolitan hierarchy, extending well beyond that deriving from
more standard analyses of the individual components of the urban system. The visualisation of
the resulting spatial configuration and the positioning of the different metropolitan urban regions
contrasts with the more traditional map-based geographical image of Europe, going some way
towards meeting the challenge before spatial planners today of effectively communicating the
ever changing spatial dynamics at the European scale.

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