Representing the dwelling stock as 3D generic tiles estimated from average residential density

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Forecasting the variability of dwellings and residential land is important for estimating the future potential of environmental technologies. This paper presents an innovative method of converting average residential density into a set of one-hectare 3D tiles to represent the dwelling stock. These generic tiles include residential land as well as the dwelling characteristics. The method was based on a detailed analysis of the English House Condition Survey data and density was calculated as the inverse of the plot area per dwelling. This found that when disaggregated by age band, urban morphology and area type, the frequency distribution of plot density per dwelling type can be represented by the gamma distribution. The shape parameter revealed interesting characteristics about the dwelling stock and how this has changed over time. It showed a consistent trend that older dwellings have greater variability in plot density than newer dwellings, and also that apartments and detached dwellings have greater variability in plot density than terraced and semi-detached dwellings. Once calibrated, the shape parameter of the gamma distribution was used to convert the average density per housing type into a frequency distribution of plot density. These were then approximated by systematically selecting a set of generic tiles. These tiles are particularly useful as a medium for multidisciplinary research on decentralized environmental technologies or climate adaptation, which requires this understanding of the variability of dwellings, occupancies and urban space. It thereby links the socioeconomic modeling of city regions with the physical modeling of dwellings and associated infrastructure across the spatial scales. The tiles method has been validated by comparing results against English regional housing survey data and dwelling footprint area data. The next step would be to explore the possibility of generating generic residential area types and adapt the method to other countries that have similar housing survey data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280–300
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Early online date24 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Urban modelling
  • Housing survey
  • Gamma distribution
  • Dwelling typology
  • Building-scale technologies


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