ArgumentNo. 11/2019

The need for optimizing urban space. The Analysis of Urban Density and Urbanization Patterns in the Bucharest – Ilfov Region, Romania

  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania
  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania


The aim of this paper is to discuss the concept of urban density in Europe’s present urbanization context, highlighting the existing differences in urbanization patterns between Western European and post-communist countries. Without neglecting important debates such as the need to plan for climate change or the gentrification processes associated with re-urbanization patterns, the paper focuses on defining and measuring urban density as a pre-requisite for sustainable housing planning in European cities.

Following an analysis of urban density patterns across the European Union and its relationship with the efficient supply of public services for residential areas, the paper relates centre – suburbia population growth trends. The differences between the actual urbanization patterns in Western Europe (where metropolitan areas have entered a re-urbanization phase) and the important suburbanization process occurring after 1990 in Post-Communist countries are thus highlighted. Undergoing significant suburbanization processes, this is very well illustrated by the case of Bucharest and its widespread urban satellites.

The Bucharest metropolitan region has been characterized in the last two decades by a chaotic suburban development determined by legislative and economic factors similar to the majority of post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. While the population density in the city has continuously declined since the 1990s, the built-area density has seen a significant rise in the last decade, triggered by large-scale real-estate developments.

With two major plans for the metropolitan region, the normative General Urban Plan of the City of Bucharest and the strategic-oriented County Plan of Ilfov, currently being updated, the paper argues that a re-orientation from suburbanization towards re-urbanization is possible only by encouraging the re-structuring of derelict inner-areas with levels of urban density that allow the efficient provision of basic public services.


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