Similar Size of Slum – An Eigenvalue independent of City, Country and Culture

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Pelz, TU Darmstadt

6 Jun 2019, 17:00–18:30; Location: S4|10-1

In a joint project with DLR, we recently demonstrated that the size of a slum is independent of city, country and culture. The question arises as to why this is so. Natural borders such as coastlines, mountains, rivers or motorways do not serve as reasons. Size must be inherent in migration dynamics.

We see migration as a reaction diffusion system by distinguishing between "diffuse" short-distance migration of the poor and the rich and "reactive" long-distance migration. This model of migration dynamics can Turing unstable. The similar size of slums is an intrinsic value, i.e. an intrinsic size based on the migration behaviour of poor and rich people.

If we continue to think of the infrastructure system for the global South, we must think in natural terms of the migration system. The first and smallest scale is a human being. The second scale is a family. Normally this scale is in the order of the Miller number seven, the third scale is the mentioned intrinsic scale of migration dynamics.

If we plan the infrastructure politically, technically and economically, we must keep an eye on all three dimensions.

This research is joint work with John Friesen, Lea Rausch and Jakob Hartig.


Peter F. Pelz, John Friesen, and Jakob Hartig: Similar size of slums caused by a Turing instability of migration behavio; Phys. Rev. E 99, 022302; 2019.

Friesen, J.; Taubenböck, H.; Wurm, M.; Pelz, P.F.: Size distributions of slums across the globe using different data and classification methods; European Journal of Remote Sensing; 2019

Friesen, J.; Taubenböck, H.; Wurm, M.; Pelz, P.F.: The similar size of slums; Habitat International, 2018.


Category: CE Seminar


Technische Universität Darmstadt

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