movement and accessibility

I once did a study using isovist and space syntax measures in relation to social behavior in urban spaces. In that study I had better results with isovist measures than with space syntax measures. Now I am finding applications in which space syntax is more useful. Bill Hillier, the "father" of space syntax analysis, suggested as much: That axial lines should be used for intelligibility, global properties and movement; isovists for static local uses of space. Isovist grids, or visibility graphs, provide output that looks similar to that of axial line maps, but they really are measuring different things. Axial lines predict movement, or movement choices, which require some conscious thought. Isovists measure and predict behaviours which are more dependent upon environmental qualities, or perception and awareness.

victoria_passengerflows500[1].gif  victoria_spatialinteganalysis500[1].gif

Passenger flow and integration map at Victoria Station: Space Syntax Office

Space syntax, or axial line analysis, is useful for accessibility mapping. If you want to increase pedestrian traffic to a destination, such as a transit station in the midst of transit oriented development, you want to increase the pedestrian accessibility. So far I am finding two syntax measures, Connectivity and Integration, the most useful for this purpose.

Space syntax started as very wonkish academic theory out of the University College London, but has been put into practice through the work of the Space Syntax Office. One very striking project using this analysis was the Trafalgar Square redo with Norman Foster. They did a fine-grained mapping of pedestrian routes, based on actual observation (it helps to have a lot of university students to do this). They mapped different options to improve accessibility - the best one had a central staircase from a newly pedestrianized street between the square and the National Gallery.

trafalgar_existingaccess500[1].gif  trafalgar_proposedaccess500[1].gif
Existing and proposed access routes for Trafalgar Square: Space Syntax Office

Some "after shots - the stair worked even better than hoped, as seating for urban theater. The Google aerial was obviously shot during a special event - perhaps a car-free day? It's a major crowd, following the paths predicted, very impressive.


trafalgar aerial.jpg

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