This article aims to highlight the mechanisms through which institutional arrangements influence the morphology of residential development. By comparing the Netherlands, Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia, which have quite similar socio-economic and landscape characteristics, it investigates how differences in national institutional environments have contributed to differences in the urban morphology of residential areas.
This article fits within a broader institutional “turn” in planning research. While most of these studies focus on how institutions affect the behaviour of actors in the process of planning and development, this article focuses on the physical outcomes of these processes. The institutional analysis of physical outcomes suggests that urban morphology is not only linked to planning systems—the subject of this special issue—but also to housing cultures and property regimes.