Is compact city livable?

25th Oct 2017

Is compact city livable? The impact of compact versus sprawled neighbourhoods on neighbourhood satisfaction

A new paper by Kostas Mouratidis is now available online


Low-density urban forms are often considered more livable than compact ones. Yet, studies investigating the relationship between compact cities and livability do not take into consideration the importance of public transport, accessibility and mix of land uses along with high densities. Moreover, direct comparisons of livability between the compact city and its alternative, urban sprawl, are scarce, and even more so in a European context. Investigating the metropolitan area of Oslo, which encompasses both compact and sprawled areas, this study examines the impact of the compact city on livability by employing neighbourhood satisfaction as a livability measure. Three different methods are used: cross-sectional regression analysis, longitudinal comparisons and qualitative analysis. Cross-sectional results indicate that compact-city residents are significantly more satisfied with their neighbourhood than those who live in sprawled neighbourhoods, even after controlling for sociodemographic and other variables. Longitudinal analysis based on residents who have lived in both neighbourhood types confirms this finding. This study also examines the impact of compactness within a wider range of urban form typologies and finds that the higher the density, the higher the neighbourhood satisfaction. Important components of the compact city – public transport, accessibility to city centre and land use mix – demonstrate a positive association with neighbourhood satisfaction. Findings from this study suggest that, when common urban problems are addressed, and when planned to integrate all its essential characteristics, the compact city has a positive influence on livability.

You can access and download the full paper here.

< Back to Urban Studies News