Exploring the plot patterns of the retail landscape: The case of the Helsinki Metropolitan area

EFEOĞLU H. E., Joutsiniemi A., Mozuriunaite S.

Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 2023 (SSCI) identifier


This study examines the impact of the morphological characteristics of plots in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA) on the retail landscape, with a focus on understanding the ways in which the morphological characteristics potentially influence the distribution, agglomeration and diversity of retail businesses. Although frequently underestimated in contemporary placemaking practices, this research emphasizes the role of the dual nature of plots as an element of urban form and an element of control over the retail landscape of the city. In this sense, the role of the morphological characteristics of plots in shaping the retail landscape of the city was investigated. The compositional (size, frontage ratio) and configurational (integration, betweenness, frequency) features of the plot in the HMA (n = 77,736) were measured. Thereafter an unsupervised two-step clustering method was applied to reveal the subtle morphological regions through plot patterns. Computational plot characterization with open data sets yielded six plot types having different morphological characteristics and geographic distribution patterns. The spatial capacities of each plot type for retail distribution, agglomeration and diversity were then analysed and compared. This research argues that the interrelationship of the dual nature of plot plays an important role in placemaking processes. The results suggest that the spatial capacity of plots to accommodate street-based retail clusters is improved with spatially integrated, fine-grained urban fabric with independent micro-businesses involving a diversity of uses and actors. The study argues that these spatial conditions might also increase retail resilience and contribute to the vitality and viability of the retail landscape.