Urban housing density and infrastructure costs

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9 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


Urbanisation is one of the most significant global megatrends and, as a result, major cities are facing multiple challenges. In this study, we contribute to the sustainable urban development debate and examine the relation between housing density and infrastructure costs. The analysis is based on four hypothetical design prototypes and a consistent cost calculation framework. Based on the results, infrastructure costs per capita are the highest in low-density areas and the lowest in high-density areas, if parking is excluded. However, if also construction costs of parking structures are included, the costs per capita are the highest in high-density areas. Considering the notably high cost impact of parking structures and people's limited willingness to pay for parking, municipally zoned parking requirements in urban areas are likely to result in non-optimal land use. Furthermore, construction in poor soil conditions may only be considered feasible if the floor area ratio and residential densities are relatively high. Beyond the cost benefits, the number of residents that may be accommodated is crucial and higher density in central urban locations should be promoted. We also suggest the cost of urban greenness to be reasonable relative to its many reported benefits and conclude that denser urban structure should not be pursued at the expense of green spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number497
Number of pages24
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Floor area ratio
  • Green spaces
  • Infrastructure costs
  • Parking
  • Residential density
  • Urban housing density

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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