Human Settlements and Climate Change

By Jelena Živković, University of Belgrade – Faculty of Architecture,
Belgrade, Serbia

Human settlement is a place where people live. It
refers to the totality of human community with all
the social, material, organizational, spiritual, and
cultural elements that sustain it. Any form of
human dwelling, from the smallest house to the
largest city, where group of people reside and
pursue their life goals, can be understood as set-
tlement. Human settlements come in many forms
and can be permanent and temporary, rural and
urban, mobile and sedentary, disseminated and
A great variety of settlements exists worldwide
today reflecting human needs, abilities, and aspi-
rations, as well as social, political, and economic
relations. In this chapter, human settlements will
be presented by reviewing their general character-
istics, classifications, and hierarchies, as well as
specificities of urban and rural settlements, their historical development, and the contemporary
challenges they face.

Characteristics of Human Settlements
Characteristics that define human settlements are
their site, location, size, function, form, and
• Site refers to the exact location of where a
settlement first started. Settlement sites are
chosen because there are many good reasons
for locating a settlement there such as water
supply, flat and arable land, building supply,
protection, shelter from weather, bridging
point, crossroad – intersection of roads.
• Situation refers to the location of a settlement
in relation to the surrounding area.
• Size refers to the number of people living in a
settlement or it can refer to the area that settle-
ment occupies. Size of settlement may vary
from several people to more than ten million
• Function of the settlement describes all the
main activities that occur in it. These can be
grouped into a number of headings, such as
residential, recreational, retail, government,
entertainment, and industrial. Some settle-
ments have one predominant function – in
history some towns performed important
defensive functions, while others were ports
or important trade centers. Today, most I settlements are multifunctionl and perform a
range of different functions. Many settlements
have found that their functions had to change
over time.
• Form refers to physical characteristics that
make up built-up areas, including the shape,
size, density, and configuration of settlements.
• Structure describes the spatial arrangement
and configuration of elements of streets,
blocks, and buildings. As settlements develop
and grow, they form identifiable settlement
patterns. Layout of the settlement can encour-
age social interaction, but it can also act as a
form of social control. The term structure can
also refer to social structure of inhabitants.
According to their characteristics, it is possible
to establish the hierarchy of human settlements
and distinguish between two main types – rural
and urban settlements.

For detailed reading:-

Click to access 10.1007%2F978-3-319-71063-1_88-1.pdf

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