full title: Tara Ata, Agnès Patuano, and Gillian Lawson. 2021. "Between 2D and 3D: Studying Structural Complexity of Urban Fabric Using Voxels and LiDAR-Derived DSMs" Fractal and Fractional 5, no. 4: 227 (link to online article)
Cities are complex systems and their physical forms are the manifestation of cultural, social and economic processes shaped by the geometry of natural and man-made elements. Digital Surface Models (DSM) using LiDAR provide an efficient volumetric transformation of urban fabric including all built and natural elements which allows the study of urban complexity through the lens of fractal dimension (D). Founded on the “box-counting” method, we reveal a voxelization technique developed in GIS (Geographic Information System) to estimate D values of ten DSM samples across central Melbourne. Estimated D values of surface models (between 2 and 3) provide a measure to interpret the structural complexity of different urban characters defined by the pattern of developments and densities. The correlations between D values with other DSM properties such as elevation, volume, solar radiation and surface roughness, showed a strong relationship between DSM volume and mean elevation. Lower strength correlations were recorded with solar radiation and surface roughness. The proposed method provides opportunities for fractal research to study pressing issues in complex urban environments such as declining physical fitness, mental health and urban biodiversity.