Analysing retail location and urban dynamics in Lisboa

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What drives people into a city? Some cities seem able to attract workers and residents, sometimes tourists, eventually all of these. Some are commuter towns. And some are, to some extent, in between those. Christaller (1933) considered the city to be the centre of a market area, and Lösch (1954) further elaborated on that theory. Location theories date back to von Thünen (1826), but close to the 21st century, Krugman (1991) posed a relevant question: why is it that in such a large, fertile country like the U.S.A. “the bulk of the population resides in a few clusters of metropolitan areas?”. The question was later emphasized, with Clarke (2003) and Jayne (2006) assuming postmodern cities as places of consumption. Jacobs (1961) had long hinted at why people live in cities: “Not only do public characters spread the news and learn the news at retail, so to speak. They connect with each other and thus spread word wholesale, in effect.”. The city was presented as more than just a market centre – it was an organic system, whose complexity couldn’t be modelled at the time. But modelling complex systems has evolved significantly, with the focus, in some cases, having shifted from “how to” to “how well”, as more data becomes available and models become more sophisticated. “What scientists really need to know is exactly how well (or how poorly) their models perform over a broad range of conditions and criteria” (Costanza, 1989). Even though results still can’t provide absolute certainties, they can prove to be relevant for research. Therefore, this paper aims at contributing to research on modelling a complex system, by identifying factors that might explain retail spatial distribution, and analysing its effects on a city, with Lisboa being used as a case study.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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