The rapid spatial expansion of urban areas, commonly terms as urban sprawl, has resulted in a number of environmental and social concerns, including the loss of primary agricultural land, long commuting time and traffic congestion, and low-efficiency energy consumption, to name but a few. As an alternative to urban expansion, higher density housing in the form of multi-story and apartment buildings – termed as vertical urban development (VUD) – has been implemented by governments to mitigate the adverse impact from urban sprawl. While substantial effort has been made by government authorities for achieving higher density housing through planning and policy programmes, there is a critical need to understand the housing preferences by residents, the variation of such housing preferences due to changing circumstances in people’s lives, as well as variations amongst people residing in different part of the city with different demographic and socioeconomic status. On the other hand, the current research on urban development focuses on modelling the two-dimensional process of urban expansion, with only limited research on modelling the process of vertical urban growth, which rarely consider the residential preference and housing decisions towards high density living.

This study aims to explore 1) the residential preference by people at various stage of their housing career, 2) factors impacting their housing choices including socio-economic, environmental as well as individual life-stage factors, and 3) methods that is capable of incorporating such preferences and impacting factors into a holistic modelling framework to understand and model VUD. Through a purposefully designed questionnaire survey, this study will collect primary data to explore local residents’ preferences towards high-density apartment living and factors impacting their housing choices. This survey will be conducted drawing on the contrasts between people living in high-rise buildings and detached houses, between CBD and suburb dwellers, and between those living in relatively more advantaged and more disadvantaged suburbs in order to discern the life stage factors, social-economic, as well as dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics related factors. An agent-based model will be developed to simulate the spatio-temporal processes of vertical urban development by incorporating residents’ housing preferences together with the physical, built environment and planning constraints. In doing so, this research will contribute to formulating an enriched urban growth plan towards vertical urban development. The agent-based model will also be transferrable to other context and enable planners and policy makers to identify, visualise and assess the emerging patterns of residential development in cities and the impact by residents through their complex interactions with the built environment they live in.

Funding: China Scholarship Council

Advisors: Associate Professor Yan Liu, Dr Scott Lieske

Project members

Yuanyuan HUANG

PhD Candidate