Spatial Planning at TU Delft is involved in a Taiwan national research project on carrying capacity of the territory and population size. The project is examining possible optimum city size in relation to the carrying capacity of the built and natural environment and indicators that can be used to assess these relationships. At the project’s third seminar with government officials Vincent Nadin presented some ideas from north-west Europe. He argued that optimum city size is no longer widely discussed (although economists continued to be interested in the theory) partly because the containment of large cities has become the accepted doctrine since the 1950s and we have learnt that city size in Europe is not significantly related to economic success or environmental performance. However, there is great interest in environmental carrying capacity and ‘threshold analysis’ for ecological systems, and the definition of indicators to explain the performance of cities and their impact on the territory.

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