The application of space Syntax in studying the structure of the cities



The theory of natural movement was developed by Hillier and Hanson at 1984 and investigates the relation between social and spatial forms. Hillier believes that space is the key aspect of how social and cultural worlds are made in the real world. Hillier claims that social and spatial forms follow such a consistent pattern that spatial configuration determines social patterns such as land-use and movement.The application of the ‘natural movement theory’ in studying the spatial structure of the cities is highlighted in the literature. Given that this theory delivers an applicable tool called space syntax, it is very welcomed by the planners, researchers and the practitioners in the field of architecture and urban planning. Hillier introduces space syntax as “… a set of computer techniques for modeling buildings and cities in which spatial layout is first represented as systems of linked geometrical elements- lines when studying movement convex elements when studying interaction, fields of view when examining more complex patterns of behavior- and then analyzed in terms of the relations between each spatial element and all the other spatial elements in the layout”. He highlights the application of space syntax for “… applying configurational measures to the patterns of different geometric elements that are created by buildings and cities. Whether we choose lines, convex spaces, Isovists, or even points as the elements for our analysis depend in what aspect of functionality or human spatiality we are investigating”. Space syntax is a well known technique in studying the pattern of pedestrian movement, distribution of crime, land uses, and immigrant quarters in the city. It is a useful tool to quantify the urban quality as well as studying the spatial structure of the city. It can be integrated with GIS to develop new models such as route filtering system. It also can be very applicable in studying the deprived area and their condition in the spatial structure of the city. This method allows the planners to investigate the issue of accessibility to the urban fabric including the deprived areas in order to increase their integration into the surrounding urban fabric. It also allows urban planners to investigate the issue of movement from an angel different from traffic point of view. In Iran accessibility to the deprived area has been always highlighted as an issue and unfortunately the traffic-orientated approach has been assumed to be the solution. However, applying spaces syntax to the deprived cases shows that there are other structural methods in order to increase the integration of the deprived areas to the surrounding urban fabric as well as the accessibility to these areas. For the case of Iran several cities have been studied with this method as well. However, lack of references is one of the main obstacles in applying this method for the researches more often. In this regard, this paper discusses space syntax and its relevant theories. The axial map of Tehran is also presented to make the readers familiar with the application of space syntax in urbanism.