Space Syntax in Urban Studies

Introduction to Space Syntax in Urban Studies

Space syntax - with a set of geometrical techniques - allows us to describe spaces and movement patterns in cities and show us their relative importance in generating good design. 

A. Van Ness / C. Yamu © Springer NaturePublic spaces are the catalyst to thrive life in cities. They are the backbone of a city that determine its success or failure. Public spaces are the connectors that interlink transport, land use and people’s behaviour in cities. We need to understand public spaces at all scales to create lively, healthy and sustainable cities. Herein, space syntax allows with a set of geometrical techniques to describe spaces and movement patterns in cities and show us their relative importance in generating good design. 

What is space syntax?
Space syntax is a spatial analysis tool, calculating and quantifying spatial relationships in built environments on all scale levels. A space syntax analysis gives a spatial diagnosis over well-functioning poorly functioning neighbourhoods or town centres.

What is the societal contribution of space syntax?
Space syntax gives researchers the mathematical support to understand and support their substantiate observations and to derive their conclusions with facts regards research on the built environment. For the urban design practice, the aim is to ensure that new urban planning and design proposals will function according to the intentions.

About the book
Space syntax popularity has grown rapidly in recent years. However, until now there was no textbook at hand providing an elementary introduction to space syntax, including exercises, in order to study and learn in an easy to understand way. Before, space syntax techniques were conveyed through word of mouth. This holistic textbook provides a knowledge foundation on which the space syntax novice can build upon to become the most experienced space syntax researcher, and it is a source for scholars who want to use space syntax in teaching and research. Likewise, practitioners can benefit from this book. 

The main aim of the book is to present and explain the basic elements of the space syntax method as applied to the analysis of the built environment on different scales, from buildings and local streets to large metropolitan areas. It shows how urban phenomena can be understood through configurative studies connected to people’s socio-economic behaviours. We present a basic platform for carrying out space syntax analysis, and this book seeks to bridge the gap between the theoretical concerns of the scientist and the practical interests of the practitioner. It is not however, a manifesto on urbanism. Nor is it a normative description of how kinds of how urban interventions are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Nor is It a normative description of how one should design urban areas. Instead, it explains some solid scientific methods for analyzing the built environment in order to understand how it functions spatially and socially. 

This textbook is for researchers and teachers who are dealing with the built environment, such as those in the field of architecture, urban design, urban planning, urban geography, road engineering, urban sociology, and environmental psychology.

Akkelies van Nes & Claudia Yamu, October 2021

Akkelies van Nes

Prof. Dr. Scient. Akkelies van Nes is a space syntax expert with 20 years of experience and is a highly recognised scholar in the field of space syntax. She is a leading expert on urban morphology studies in relation to transport planning, criminology, and archaeology using space syntax.

Claudia Yamu

Prof. Dr. techn. Dr. Claudia Yamu is a space syntax expert with over 15 years of experience and founding director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Urban Science and Design (CASUS) in the Netherlands. She is the leading expert on fractal models and transport land use planning combining space syntax with a wide range of other analytical techniques at the forefront of virtual modelling and digital twins. As a former project consultant for Space Syntax Ltd. London, she excels in combining the theoretical innovations with practice-oriented solutions and has been involved in numerous international space syntax projects.

Authors of the book Introduction to Space Syntax in Urban Studies