Geography Field Study - Delineating the CBD Antwerp

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Alexander Zouev

000051 - 070

Table of Contents

1. Introduction:

The city of Antwerp is considered to be the capital of commerce and business in Belgium.  With a population over 520,000, Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest city and is the capital of the Flanders province.1  

Apart from downfalls during both world wars, Antwerp continued to experience great economic success, and geographically expanding both horizontally and vertically.  

My ultimate objective will be to delineate the Central Business District of Antwerp, and we have chosen to study outwards from the Franklin Rooseveltplaats, which we assume to be the CBD of the city.  Information along the north, south, east and west transects will be considered.

2. Aims of the field study:

  1. To delineate the Central Business District (CBD) of Antwerp, Belgium.
  2. To investigate the extent to which Antwerp’s urban morphology conforms to the Burgess’ (1924) Concentric Ring Model of the city
  3. To investigate the distributional pattern and location presence of Antwerp’s hotels

3. We hypothesize the following:

  1. A clear-cut edge to the CBD will be apparent, and the CBD will be identified.  
  2. The proportion of office and retail space to residential use will decline with distances from the CBD.
  3. Traffic and pedestrian counts will decline with distance from the CBD.  
  4. The height of buildings will decline with distance from the CBD
  5. The price of car parking will decrease with distance from the CBD
  6. The distributional pattern of Antwerp’s top hotels will be regular 

4. Justification for our hypothesis:

Reasoning for our hypotheses is based on a variety of urban theories, notably Burgess and his Concentric Ring Model, neo-classical theories and other more recent theories about the location and characteristics of the CBD 

        Burgess assumed that cities contained a variety of clearly defined socio-economic areas; therefore the CBD could be clearly outlined.  Moreover, he stated that the CBD would be the centre of major shops and offices, and that it is the focus for transport routes. 3 

        Also he claimed that land values in the area were highest and declined rapidly outwards, also the zone was the center of transportation.4 

More recent studies suggest that similar businesses would try to be distributed in a regular pattern in order to maximize their sphere of influence and not create competition.  Therefore the distribution of Antwerp’s top hotels should be regular.


5. Methods of data collection:

        Using a distance measuring trundle wheel, a standard map of Antwerp, data recording sheets and a clipboard and pencils, we will set out to measure:

  • Length of transect in meters (using wheel and scaled map).

  • Ratios of offices, and shops, to other properties
  • Building heights (in storeys)
  • Sample 5 minute traffic and pedestrian counts at various locations
  • Parking prices at various locations
  • Hotel prices/number of stars (not done on field study day)

We will set out in four groups - each group will be responsible for sampling a given transect (North, South, East, West) coming from the presumed CBD (Rooseveltplaats).  Although we implemented line sampling by measuring only 4 different transects in the cross section, another way could be to measure heights every 10 buildings. Further sampling technique is found on page 19.

6. Justification for Methods of Data Collection:

        The reason we will be measuring the lengths of the transects is so that we have actual distances (in meters) and this can help us accurately estimate the edge of the CBD (hypothesis I).  We want data for ratios of shops other buildings and offices to other buildings so that we can relate this to Burgess theory about the ratios and hypothesis II.  Building heights are also central to Burgess’ claim (hypothesis IV), and quite easy to measure.  Traffic and pedestrian counts will be taken to test hypothesis III.  Distributions and prices of hotels and parking spots relate to hypotheses V and VI, however the data for these does not necessarily have to be collected on the field study day.

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7. Data Presentation + Analysis:

        First, to address building height, I have compiled bar charts to show how the heights change in each of the 4 transects for both the left and right-hand side: 


        By observing the graphs we can notice that some transects do indeed show that as distance from the CBD increases, the height of buildings in general, decreases (hypothesis IV).

        Certainly in the northern transect (Figure 7.1) this was the case, as the bars clearly show a downward trend.  For the southern transect (7.2), this was less apparent. To ...

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