Delineate Built-Up Areas (Cartography)

License Level:BasicStandardAdvanced


Creates polygons to represent built-up areas by delineating densely clustered arrangements of buildings on small-scale maps.

The boundaries—or edges—of the output polygons can be dictated by the location of other features such as roads or hydrology. Input buildings can be attributed to identify which can be replaced in maps by the built-up area polygons for a more generalized depiction.


Delineate Built-up Areas tool creates polygons that represent the distribution of input building features
Delineate Built-up Areas tool creates polygons that represent the distribution of input building features.



DelineateBuiltUpAreas_cartography (in_buildings, {identifier_field}, out_feature_class, grouping_distance, minimum_detail_size, {edge_features}, {minimum_building_count})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The layers containing buildings whose density and arrangement are used to define appropriate output built-up polygons. Multiple building layers can be assessed simultaneously. Building features can be points or polygons.

Feature Layer

A field on the input feature classes that will hold a status code indicating whether the input feature is part of the resulting built-up area . This field must be either short or long integer type and common in all input layers, if multiple input layers are used.

  • 0 = The building is not represented by an output built-up area polygon.
  • 1 = The building is represented by an output built-up area polygon and is within the resulting polygon.
  • 2 = The building is represented by an output built-up area polygon and is outside the resulting polygon.


The output feature class containing built-up area polygons representing clustered arrangements of input buildings.

Feature Class

Buildings closer together than the grouping distance are considered collectively as candidates for representation by an output built-up area polygon. This distance is measured from the edges of polygon buildings and the centers of point buildings.

Linear unit

Defines the relative degree of detail in the output built-up area polygons. This roughly translates to the minimum allowable diameter of a hole or cavity in the built-up area polygon. The actual size and shape of holes and cavities within the polygon is determined also by the arrangement of the input buildings, the grouping distance, and the presence of edge features, if they are used.

Linear unit

The layers that can be used to define the edges of the built-up area polygons. Typically, these are roads, but other common examples are rivers, coastlines, or administrative areas. Built-up area polygons snap to an edge feature if one is generally aligned with the trend of the polygon edge and within the grouping distance away. Edge features can be lines or polygons.

Feature Layer

The minimum number of buildings that must be collectively considered for representation by an output built-up area polygon. The default value is 4. The minimum building count must be greater than or equal to 0.


Code Sample

DelineateBuiltUpAreas tool example (Python window)

The following Python window script demonstrates how to use the DelineateBuiltUpAreas tool in immediate mode.

import arcpy
from arcpy import env
env.workspace = "C:/data"
env.referenceScale = "50000"
                                        "100 Meters",
                                        "125 Meters",


Reference Scale

The reference scale is only considered when the Grouping Distance or the Minimum Detail Size parameter value is entered in page units.

Related Topics

Licensing Information

ArcGIS for Desktop Basic: No
ArcGIS for Desktop Standard: No
ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced: Yes