Borrowed size, agglomeration shadows and cultural amenities in North-West Europe

Martijn Burger, E Meijers, MM Hoogerbrugge, J Masip Tresserra

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164 Citations (Scopus)


It has been argued that the concept of “borrowed size” is essential to understanding urban patterns and dynamics in North-West Europe. This paper conceptualizes this idea and provides an empirical exploration of it. A place borrows size when it hosts more urban functions than its own size could normally support. A borrowed size for one place means that other places face an “agglomeration shadow” because they host fewer urban functions than they would normally support. This paper explores the extent to which size and function are related for places in North-West Europe and tries to explain why one place borrows size while the other faces an agglomeration shadow by examining the position of places within the regional urban system. The presence of urban functions was approximated using high-end cultural amenities. We conclude that the largest places in their functional urban area (FUA) are better able to exploit their own mass. The largest place in a FUA is also better able to borrow size from nearby places and from (inter)national urban networks than the lower-ranked places.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1109
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Research programs

  • EUR ESE 34


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