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East London transect

Enquiry question: How does environmental quality and land use change with distance from the CBD?
Learning objectives

Knowledge and understanding

  • Urban models predict environmental quality will improve with distance from CBD

  • They also predict land use will change from commercial to residential further from CBD

  • Traditional urban land use models no longer describe modern cities like London

  • Recent processes, such as gentrification and re-urbanisation may be changing the model

Geographical skills

  • Environmental quality survey

  • Quality of life questionnaire

  • Land use mapping

  • Take geo-located photos of land use

Learning outcomes

Most students will be able to:

  • Understand that traditional urban land use models no longer describe modern cities

  • Use an EQS to find out how environmental quality changes with distance from CBD

  • Carry out a questionnaire about quality of life to find out how it changes

  • Map land use along the transect to find out how it changes with distance from CBD

  • If possible, propose a new urban model that better describes changes in environmental quality and land use with distance from the CBD

    Pre-visit recommendation

    Students should be familiar with traditional urban models, like the Burgess model, but recognise these were often based on American cities in the early 20th century. They should be aware modern cities, like London, may be different.


    Meet at Aldgate station on the edge of London’s CBD. Point out the proximity of high-rise offices in the CBD. Explain how London has grown from its original Roman site. Until recently, Aldgate was in the middle of a congested one-way road system with high levels of air pollution. It has since been redeveloped. Model fieldwork methods to be used along the transect.


    Sheet 1: Environmental quality survey

    Sheet 2: Quality of life questionnaire


    Location 1: Aldgate Square

    Location 2: Altab Ali Park

    Location 3: Whitechapel Station

    Location 4: O’Leary Square

    Location 5Ocean Estate

    Location 6: Mile End Station

    Location 7: Bow Road Station

    Location 8: Bow Church

    At each location, students do an environmental quality survey, carry out a quality of life questionnaire, map land use and take geo-located photos. Walk along main road from Aldgate to Bow, splitting class into groups to collect data from alternate locations. They can share data later.


    Sheet 3: Aldgate Square map

    Sheet 4: Altab Ali Park map

    Sheet 5: Whitechapel St map

    Sheet 6: O’Leary Square map

    Sheet 7: Ocean Estate map

    Sheet 8: Mile End St map

    Sheet 9: Bow Road St map

    Sheet 10: Bow Church map


    Discuss the changes they have seen along the transect. Even though students may not have collected data from every location, they should have an overall impression of the changes. To what extent do traditional urban models describe the changes? Do these models provide an adequate description of a modern city? What new model could they propose?


    Sheet 11: Transect summary

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