In Urban history and geography, the concept of edge cities has become a new settlement model focused on decentralisation of the heavily dense metropolitan areas. Edge city is an area on the outskirts of an existing urbanised area or suburban area, with a concentration of commercial, corporate, and institutional facilities due to population. The term came into play in the 20th century due to a book titled “Edge City” in 1991 by Joel Garreau, an American Reporter.

What are Edge cities?   - Sheet1
Outlook of an Edge City_

Edges cities are seen as strategies for city expansion and urban growth, as regards the traditional downtown or central business district of an urbanised area. They are also referred to as mega centres and settlement networks. They are surrounding cities that exist on the fringes of existing larger cities, acting as regional hubs for recreation, business, or other commercial activities. There has been a context between Urban sprawl and edge cities on the grounds of definition and appropriateness, which one suites and/or better describes the event, and asides edge cities, other concepts of urban models such as central place theory, gateway city, growth poles, corridor city, center-periphery models exist.

What are Edge cities?   - Sheet2
Example of an Urban Sprawl_

Formation Of Edge Cities

Edge cities develop near major urban infrastructural facilities like airports, industrial areas far from the central district, and intersections of highways leading out of the central area. Sometimes called “Technoburbs” they feature some activities and amenities serving the larger population. They are also a result of urban sprawl. Edge cities consist of mid-level infrastructures; hence they are not full but are still under the regulation of the main city.

What are Edge cities?   - Sheet3
City nodes_

Characteristics of Edge Cities

A variety of factors and forces come to play in the concept and formation of edge cities. These factors help sharpen the definition and lay out the criterion. Such defining factors include:

  • An Edge city should have more places and spaces for industrial activities than places to sleep, like they say “people follow jobs”
  • It should have a land mass of about 465,000 square meters.
  • It should have high population during business hours than afterward, that is to say, people transit in at business hours, primarily to decongest the parent city.
  • It has enough retail and commercial outlets at least up to 60,000 square meters.
  • It should be closer to the main city
  • It is also a known destination for residents, not a transit hub or station.
  • Economics around such places are quite simple and affordable, to create competition with the parent city.
  • They should not have been in existence and populated at least 30 years ago
  • Edge cities have an inclusive cultural background.
  • They have local control policies and regulations
  • The quality of life around edge cities is tied to productivity.
  • Ease of mobility is also a factor for consideration, as is one of its major elements of formation.
What are Edge cities?   - Sheet4
Traffic congestion in main cities_

Classification Of Edge Cities

Edge cities are classified into three main groups. They are:

The boomers: These are edge cities that developed gradually around a highway or retail outlet.

The Greenfields: Edge cities that developed due to a planned suburban town. They develop relying on their suburban fringe.

The Uptowns are edge cities that developed from existing old cities based on their antecedents. They can also be referred to as satellite cities.

Advantages of Edge Cities

  • Edge cities have increasingly led to the movement of workers from the main urban areas, leading to a boost in their economies
  • Edge cities have contributed much towards urban development and business expansion.


  • Sustainability
  • Mobility

Examples of Edge Cities

  • The Canary Wharf District.

This is one of the edge cities around London in the United Kingdom. it developed on the former West India Docks site, around an industrial hub. It measures about 1,500,000 square meters currently,

  • Cherry Hill:

Cherry Hill is a small township within the state of New Jersey in the United States, a suburban area of Philadelphia. It was created in 1844 as Delaware and renamed in 1961. It has a total of about 62,000 square kilometers.

What are Edge cities?   - Sheet5
Open spaces in city hub_
  • Igwuruta:

This is a growing town area in Rivers State, Nigeria, around Port Harcourt. The town has an international airport, and as a result, settlements, large offices, and commercial outlets have opened up around the area. Mobility around and within the town is moderately good a major road cuts across it

  • Nnewi

Nnewi is a commercial town in Anambra State, created around many industrial activities. The small town is also close to the parent town Onitsha and measures about 502 square kilometers.

  • Soweto

This is a township in the City of Johannesburg, South Africa, founded around the mining belt of the region in 1930 after the then government decided to separate Whites from Blacks. After discovering gold, many people moved to this area, which boosted its population and commercial value.

  • Parktown

Parktown is a suburb of JohannesburgSouth Africa, home to three of the five campuses of the University of the Witwatersrand. It has grown into a business district with a good number of commercial ventures, corporate establishments, and wealthy homes.


Edge Cities (2023) (Date accessed 23 April, 2023)

Edge city (2023) (Date accessed 23 April, 2023)

Edge City (2023) (Date accessed 23 April, 2023)


Edet Samuel is a Nigerian based architect with consistent practice experience in the built environment He began his career as a pupil architect in a firm and grew through the ranks of starting out his practice. He holds a Masters degree in Architecture from the University of Nigeria, and he's currently pursuing Doctorate with focus on Intelligent building management systems, architectural forensics, and Urban design. Edet Samuel has been exposed to a wide range of design projects cutting across major categories of buildings, and has contributed this experiences to students' academic works. Edet is broadly interested in contemporary responses and diversification in architecture, especially in areas of improved working drawings & detailing, design information and management, public health architecture in this era of pandemics that has made the home front the first line of defense, and design as 'preventive medicine'.