Urban sprawl and land conversion in post-socialist cities: The case of metropolitan Budapest

Thumbnail Image
Kovács, Zoltán
Farkas, Jenő Zsolt
Egedy, Tamás
Kondor, Attila Csaba
Szabó, Balázs
Lennert, József
Baka, Dorián
Kohán, Balázs
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Former state-socialist cities were described by the literature as compact and relatively dense urban forms. However, the political transition of 1989–90 has changed the spatial characteristics of these cities, partly due to urban sprawl. Yet, we do not know if such a phenomenon as “sprawl” did exist before 1989. The main aim of this paper is to assess urban expansion in the metropolitan region of Budapest during state-socialism and after the political changes, and measure the intensity of urban sprawl. The main thesis is that urban sprawl did not start with the advent of market forces in 1989–90, but it was already present during state-socialism, however the tempo of sprawl was considerably increased by suburbanization, the dominant form of urban expansion, after 1990. In order to explore the longitudinal land use changes in the Budapest metropolitan region we analyse standardised databases and maps (e.g. military topographic map from 1959, Corine Land Cover database from 1990 and European Urban Atlas from 2012). The discussion is focused, on the one hand, on the growth of urbanized land as an outcome of urban sprawl and the main underpinning factors in different epochs and, on the other hand, on the main driving forces of suburbanization and sprawl. Research results clearly show that urban sprawl has intensified around Budapest after the political changes. This was the result of a complex interplay of socio-economic and political factors, a process driven by the free movement of residents, firms, as well as the reshuffle of the regulatory framework. The study demonstrates that urban sprawl has several negative impacts on social, economic and environmental sustainability in the investigated metropolitan region, which is in line with findings of the literature.
szuburbanizáció , városnövekedés , poszt-szocialista városfejlődés , területhasználat , városok - Közép-Európa , Budapest , városterjedés
Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 92. pp. 71-81. , 11 p. (2019)