Real estate investment and urban density: exploring the polycentric urban region using a topological lens

Kathy Pain, Shuai Shi, Daniel Black, Jon Blower, Sue Grimmond, Alistair Hunt, Stanimira Milcheva, Ben Crawford, Nick Dale, Sam Doolin, Senjuti Manna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Focusing on commercial office real estate as both a manifestation of and a conduit of cross-border capital flows, this paper refers to the concepts of topology and topography in a theoretical and empirical exploration of contemporary ‘network economy’ spatial implications for the ‘polycentric urban region’ (PUR). A body of research has cast doubt on the normative European representation of the multi-centre PUR as a balanced, sustainable spatial development model. Yet, the model has continued to be propagated in European territorial strategy and has been influential internationally. Academic perspectives and qualitative evidence reviewed in the paper shed a light on mutual dependencies and recursive relations between network economy global structural processes, international office real estate investment practices mediated by city governments, and the spatial configuration of density. Commercial investment and city planning actor practices chime with urban agglomeration, spatial concentration and density. Quantitative evidence of associations between urban density and office real estate investment returns and capital flows is found. It is concluded that network economy topology, politics and the city are in a dialectical relationship with the PUR territorial governance agenda for spatially balanced regional development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-260
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Nov 2020


  • actor practices
  • polycentric urban region
  • real estate
  • spatial planning
  • territorial governance
  • topography
  • topology
  • urban density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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