Integrated Urban & Building Modelling
Space Syntax models explain existing movement patterns and forecast future scenarios by demonstrating the relative influence of a number of key factors:
Spatial Layout Attraction – the geometry of the street or room network, influencing more movement on more direct and connected streets or spaces.
Land Use Attraction – the location, size and type of different land uses, including attractions in buildings as well as the location and capacity of transport nodes such as rail/metro stations and bus/tram stops.
Space Syntax modelling demonstrates first, how these factors vary between different streets and spaces in any city or building and then how they lead to different patterns of movement, land use, land value and safety. The approach works by transforming the street pattern of an area, or room layout of a building, into a network “graph”. In urban systems, the road centreline map of the area is often used as a starting point, where the network is divided into individual “segments” of space, each segment being the street or path between two intersections. In buildings, the network will typically be divided into individual “tiles” of space within each room.
Each segment or tile is then evaluated using a mathematical algorithm to calculate its interaccessibility within the network, ie how relatively easy or difficult it is to reach that segment from all other segments, or how likely it is that movement between different parts of the network is likely to pass along that segment. In this way, the software calculates both the “to movement” and the “through movement” characteristics of each segment.
Key feature 1
Analysis of “angular movement”
Key to the success of this approach is the discovery that movement in buildings and cities often follows a “least angle” path between origins and destinations. In other words, many people minimise the angular deviation from their origin to their destination, even if this means they sometimes take a slightly longer route. This essential, angular feature of movement is not built into traditional modelling approaches and therefore gives Space Syntax models a distinct advantage.
Key feature 2
Evaluation of multi-scale activity
A second key aspect of the Space Syntax approach is the multi-scale analysis of spatial layouts, allowing short- and long-distance journeys to be simultaneously evaluated and showing how different parts of the same network are differently used, depending on the scale of journey. Frequently, the same parts of the network are used on short- and long-distance journeys. Land use analysis shows that these multi-scale places are typically successful commercial locations, thus demonstrating the importance of careful spatial layout design in creating multi-scale opportunities for shops to trade to more than one scale of movement. An inherent risk in modern planning – both in buildings and cities – is that it often separates different scales of movement and allocates commercial activities to locations without multi-scale movement, thus reducing commercial potentials. For example, many urban planning proposals are made up of discrete neighbourhoods surrounded by fast roads so that movement between neighbourhoods is difficult other than by car. This damages commercial opportunities, isolates people and increases the carbon footprint of places.
The Space Syntax approach points towards a different, more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable form of planning and design.
Key feature 3
Integration of spatial layout attraction and land use attraction
The simultaneous analysis of spatial layout attraction and land use attraction is a third key factor in the uniqueness and success of Space Syntax models. Our approach demonstrates the fundamental role of spatial layout in influencing human behaviour potentials, then showing how the specific location of individual land use attractors exploits these potentials or not.