Testing the application of Space Syntax method in the design of traditional urban spaces



The complexity of today’s subject matter of urban design is to the extent that no urban designer may be able to consider all relevant issues and their interactive impacts simultaneously, and thereby make appropriate decisions. Application of computer techniques has made the analysis of complex issues in urban design possible. This has been a great help for urban designers. Space Syntax method is one of the techniques which have efficiently used computer and scientific methods to rationalize people’s behavior patterns in space. This technique has to the potential of analyzing the existing situation of people’s behavior pattern and modeling the results of proposed changes in the plans. The purpose of the present study is to test the capability and adequacy of Space Syntax method in designing urban spaces. The main question raised is whether and how a method developed in a country like England, can be applied in a different context. More specifically can the application of Space Syntax method in the design of Iranian urban spaces lead to a more successful realization of urban development plans, where inadequate recognition and therefore, unrealistic prediction have resulted in complete failure of almost all urban projects? Ands finally does Space Syntax method, in spite of the valuable role it plays in the recognition and analysis of urban spaces, includes some shortcomings and deficiencies which have to be complemented with some other techniques and methods? The research method for this study is evaluation method, for which the required criteria were extracted from the supplementary methods to the space syntax. A case study in the traditional settlement ?Imamzadeh ghasem neighborhood? was carried out to test the validity and adequacy of the method as an urban design tool. Following a brief review of the Space Syntax method, its strengths and weaknesses will be investigated, and two strategies will be taken to overcome its shortcomings ?disregarding the following factors in the analysis: topography and climate; space geometry, dimensions and proportions; space form and enclosure; space quality and facilities; the role of multiple entrances, and their locations. The first strategy is to go through the urban design process at three levels: global, national and local. In this case Space syntax method may be used to analyze space at a general level—globally. The second strategy is to use some other urban design techniques in order to complement Space Syntax. It is finally concluded that Space Syntax capabilities may be used in the recognition and analysis of urban spaces, while its shortcomings in dealing with local conditions should be also taken into considerations. These shortcomings are especially visible in the design phase, where other relevant techniques can fill the gap. Imamzadeh Ghasem in Northern part of Tehran is used as a case study to design a pedestrian pathway. The study once again confirms that that Space Syntax method has great potential for the study and analysis of urban spaces. It is, however, necessary to take method’s limitations and into account.