Dense building network spans Germany

No location is further than 6.3 kilometers from the nearest building

Germany is densely populated almost everywhere - the next building is never more than 6.3 kilometers away. © Milenny / iStock
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No matter where you are in Germany - the next building is only a few kilometers away. As researchers have measured, the distance to the nearest house in any location in our country is more than 6.3 kilometers. The few larger open spaces are surprisingly not in nature reserves, but on military training grounds.

More and more people are living on Earth and the need for space for the growing population is increasing rapidly. For decades, the cities on our planet have taken ever larger dimensions. Free space is increasingly disappearing - even here in Germany.

How densely the Federal Republic is actually built up, now scientists around Martin Behnisch of the Leibniz institute for ecological space development in Dresden examined. They wanted to know: how close are the buildings in our country and are there still any free zones without buildings?

This map shows the density of building clusters in Germany. © M. Behnisch, U. Schinke / IOER

Large building clusters

To find out, the researchers used a geodata set from the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy. Using this information, they identified all buildings with a floor plan of more than ten square meters of the residential building over factory buildings to the garage yard. Then they calculated the distances between these buildings and made their results visible on maps.

The result is development networks that extend almost over the entire federal territory. "Germany is covered by a dense network of connected buildings. Depending on which maximum distance between buildings we used in the calculations, we were able to make more or less large building clusters visible for the federal territory, "explains Behnisch. display

Houses everywhere

Specifically, the results revealed that no single location in the Federal Republic is more than 6.3 kilometers away from the next building. Even in the midst of supposedly secluded nature, the nearest building is therefore not far away probably even several houses are in the immediate vicinity. Because, as the research team found out, 99 percent of the buildings apply: the next house is at a distance of no more than 1.5 kilometers.

Even when the scientists used only 840 meters as the maximum distance in their calculations, a surprisingly dense network appeared on the map: "It showed a coherent structure that extends across the entire republic, " reports co-author Diego Rybski from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Location of the most densely developed areas in Germany. Beh M. Behnisch, U. Schinke / I R

Troops as free zones

This inevitably raises the question: where are there still free areas and how big are these open spaces? Behnisch and his colleagues also analyzed this and found that the largest undeveloped area measures just 12.6 kilometers in diameter. The maximum distance to the next house is 6.3 kilometers.

The surprising fact: "Contrary to our expectations, the largest open spaces are not found in nature reserves. Instead, it was found that areas still used or former military training areas have the least built-up area, "reports Rybski. The three most remote areas are therefore the Bergen concentration camps in the south of the L neburg Heath, Baumholder in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hohenfels in the Upper Palatinate.

Surfaces need protection

"Our results clearly show how urgent it is to do more in Germany for surface protection, " emphasizes Behnisch. The topic of floor space utilization is central not only for us, but worldwide, when it comes to sustainable development and climate protection.

Due to the increasing development, valuable areas are being lost, which could be used as arable land, for example, or as CO2 sinks would make an important contribution to climate protection - bogs and forests, for example. In the cities, such green islands also provide a cooling effect and have a positive effect on the well-being of the citizens.

"Nearly three-quarters of the world's habitable space is already being used by humans. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to continuously monitor settlement development and to evaluate it with regard to issues of sustainable development, "concludes Rybski. (Landscape and Urban Planning, 2019; doi: 10.1016 / j.landurbplan.2019.103631)

Source: Leibniz Institute for Ecological Spatial Development e. V

- Daniel Albat