Space syntax – EPUM Platform

Space syntax


13. ‘The configurational approach’, by Kayvan Karimi

In this short video (eleven minutes), Kayvan Karimi offers a first insight into space syntax. The video is in two parts. The first part starts with a reflection on the relationship between architecture and urbanism, to frame the emergence and development of the space-people paradigm. The video discusses how this paradigm can offer a new perspective on the issue of scale and how it relates analysis and design (evidence-based design). The second part of the video focuses on a case study developed by a group of students – the Imperial College London and South Kensington, London. It starts with an analysis of the urban area in terms of land use, pedestrian flows and spatial network, and of Imperial College London in terms of external permeability, internal pedestrian flows, level differences and internal accessibility.

Then, it describes the emergence of design ideas and proposals, and how each one of these is evaluated with the tools offered by the configurational approach.

14. ‘Space syntax approach to urban morphology’, by Kayvan Karimi

This five-pages briefing paper, prepared under the framework of the EPUM project, written by Kayvan Karimi, complements Resource 14. The paper highlights that space syntax focuses on the properties of the spaces between streets blocks rather than on the form of these blocks. It presents two fundamental propositions of space syntax: space is not a background to human activity, but is intrinsic to it; and space is first and foremost configurational (what happens in any individual space is fundamentally influenced by the relationships between that space and the network of spaces to which it is connected). The paper moves to a discussion of some components which are used in all space syntax applications: representations of spatial elements (through their geometric forms); analysis of relationships between spatial elements (resulting from their configuration); spatial models to describe, explain and forecast different phenomena; and, finally, theories on the relations between spatial and social patterns. Finally, the briefing paper presents a number of methods – from the axial map and the segment map, to convex maps, visibility graphs, isovists and agent analysis – and software – including Depthmap and the Space Syntax Toolkit for QGIS.

15. ‘Space Syntax – Company Introduction’

In this seven-minutes video, Tim Stonor, the Managing Director, and Anna Rose, the Director of Space Syntax Limited, summarize their approach: what it is, what it does, where, how they work and who do they work for, and when it can be applied. The short video also includes the view of different agents that have worked with space syntax. The video highlights the fact that the Space Syntax approach is a co- creation of the UCL research group and Spatial Syntax Limited (a spin out company). On the one hand, the company has access to the latest research from the university, and on the other, the research group has access to the projects and data from practice. The Space Syntax approach observes and analyses, mathematically, the existing environment, offering accurate information and data, which is summarized in coloured spatial models. These spatial models inform and demonstrate the qualities of settlements, towns and cities, in order to advice, on where spatial accessibility can be strengthened: where the problems lie, and what the best solutions are (in terms of the design of streets and public spaces).

16. ‘Space is the machine’, by Bill Hillier

Link to online Book:

‘The Social Logic of Space’, written in 1984 by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson set out a new theory of space as an aspect of social life. Since then the theory has developed into computer software and, among others, into an expanding range of applications in architectural and urban design. Considering these developments, in 1996, Hillier publishes ‘Space is the Machine’, outlining, a configurational theory of architecture and urbanism. The book is divided into four parts. The first, ‘Theoretical Preliminaries’, deals with the most basic of all questions which architectural theory tries to answer: what is architecture, and what are theories, that they can be needed in architecture? The second part, ‘Non-discursive Regularities’, sets out a number of studies in which regularities in the relation between spatial configuration and the observed functioning of built environments have been established using ‘non- discursive techniques’ of analysis to control the architectural variables. The third, ‘The Laws of the Field’, uses these noted regularities to reconsider the most fundamental question of all in architectural theory: how is the vast field of possible spatial complexes constrained to create those that are actually found as buildings? Finally, the last part, ‘Theoretical Syntheses’, begins to draw together some of the questions raised in Part I, the regularities shown in Part II and the laws proposed in Part III, to suggest how the two central problems in architectural theory, the form-function problem and the form-meaning problem, can be reconceptualised.

17. Space Syntax – Online Training Platform

Online Training Platform:

The Space Syntax Online Training Platform is a key resource to understand this configurational approach and to use spatial syntax software, as it contains self-learning tools for both theoretical and practical usage. The Training Platform has been co-created by the Space Syntax Laboratory, at UCL, and Space Syntax Limited. The two organisations have worked together on the academic development and commercial application of space syntax for over 25 years. The Training Platform is structured in five sections: i) overview (including the fundamental propositions and components of this approach); ii) urban and building applications of space syntax (comprising representations of space, spatial form analysis, spatial function analysis, interpretative models, and case studies – including Jeddah, Trafalgar Square and the British Museum); iii) tutorials and software for download (including DepthmapX and the QGIS Space Syntax Toolkit); iv) glossary of terms (with their respective bibliographic references); and, finally, v) contact (including also publications, symposia and bibliography). The fifth section identifies the fundamental texts of space syntax: ‘The Social Logic of Space’ by Hillier and Hanson, ‘Space is the machine: a configurational theory of architecture’ by Hillier (open access), and ‘Decoding Homes and Houses’ by Hanson.

18. ‘Space Syntax Network

Space Syntax Network:

This website offers a brief explanation of space syntax: describing its origins in the 1970s, in the work of Hillier, Hanson and colleagues, and its main academic developments; defining it as a science-based, human-focused approach that investigates relationships between spatial layout and a range of social, economic and environmental phenomena; listing its research areas, including archaeology, criminology, information technology, urban and human geography, anthropology and cognitive science; and addressing its practical and commercial applications, stating that space syntax provides a set of planning and design principles as well as a toolkit for the generation and evaluation of ideas. The website offers professional practitioners and academic researchers, space syntax software, including depthmapX and the QGIS Space Syntax Toolkit. To support the use of this software, the site offers a comprehensive handbook, ‘Space Syntax Methodology’, authored by Kinda Al-Sayed and colleagues and an Online Training Platform (see Resource 18). Another important content of this website is the symposia list gathering information from each of the conferences that took place since the first meeting in London, in 1997. Through the websites of each of these conferences, all papers presented in twenty years of meetings, can be downloaded open access.

19. The Journal of Space Syntax’


The Journal of Space Syntax is a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal focused on research investigating relations between society and space. It is edited by Daniel Koch (former editors are Julienne Hanson and Sophia Psarra) and published, since its first number in 2010, by University College London. While grounded in the field of space syntax, the journal considers its field of inquiry in a broad sense and invites articles of a wide range of theories, approaches and methods addressing its broader scope. The journal encourages a variety of themes and topics ranging from architecture to geography, the smaller scale of local places or small buildings up to the larger scales of cities, regions and beyond. The website offers open access to the most recent articles and, through its archives, to all articles published by different authors, providing a search section by authors, title, full text, date or supplementary files.