Urbanisation - a perpetuai force that has carved its way through millions of acres of land, and into millions of people’s lifestyles - seems to maintain a defiance towards being totally controlled, almost in spite of the most loyal constituents of urban planning.
Urbanisation, with the help of advances in engineering capabilities, has been able to occupy land that, many years ago, may have been considered as having too many physical and locational limitations to support urban development.
A myriad of literature offers numerous development theories and models in pursuit of explaining the land use and development relationship formula. Various patterns and trends of urbanisation have been identified and, to some extent, classified and categorised. The changing nature of urban development patterns fashions the nature of our towns and cities. Such variation may be due to changes in attitudes towards land use and the environment, and our own lifestyles. Where do we live? What do we live in? Where do we work? How do we travel? The answers to such questions have diversified somewhat over time, and hence influenced the shapes, sizes, densities, functions and locations of today’s urban centres.
Increased mobility, it can be argued, is perhaps one of the strongest factors influencing settlement patterns. The invention, and subsequent evolution, of the private motor car has made urban planning topics such as long distance commuting and urban sprawl, possible.
The private car enables longer travel distances in shorter time. Hence, travelling such distances between home, work, recreation and so on, is now very much a part of urban life. Over time, the place of residence has located further and further away from the place of employment. The increasing popularity of "country living - city convenient" style of urban and suburban developments has been largely possible due to high levels of mobility.
It is this mobility that has been a contributing factor in the creation of new urban settlements. Some of these are Edge Cities.
The problem to be investigated is one in pursuit of planning and design, urban diversity and dynamics, community, identity and coordination and integration of new centres for employment and services, in "naturally selected" locations. The ultimate goal of the study is to suggest means to achieve such places.
This thesis will endeavour to investigate the "Edge City" urban form, the driving forces, the characteristics and the benefits and problems it delivers. Illustrated by using overseas and local examples, the Edge City concept will be introduced as a vehicle which successfully locates and delivers regional employment centres out to where people reside. Edge City development potential is then assessed for a selected region, incorporating guidelines for the design and location of suburban employment centres.
The thesis has been structured to present a background to the concept, test for local potential, then, through guidelines, suggest strategies for successful implementation. Findings conclude that Edge Cities are an effective and practicable urban structure to deliver employment, services, amenities and community focus to suburban areas. They not only relieve pressures and problems of mono-nuclear metropolitan centres, but they conveniently locate activities in highly accessible positions that are sustainably driven by economic market forces.