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Introduction to Space Syntax in Urban Studies

  • Textbook
  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • Acts as the first book explaining how Space Syntax is built up, works, and can be used for newcomers
  • Serves useful as supporting teaching material for master courses
  • Provides important contribution to spatial analysis literature on the built environment
  • Offers a basic introduction for scientific grounded methods in analyzing urban space linked to elementary theory of science
  • Is an open access book

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About this book

This open access textbook is a comprehensive introduction to space syntax method and theory for graduate students and researchers. It provides a step-by-step approach for its application in urban planning and design. This textbook aims to increase the accessibility of the space syntax method for the first time to all graduate students and researchers who are dealing with the built environment, such as those in the field of architecture, urban design and planning, urban sociology, urban geography, archaeology, road engineering, and environmental psychology. Taking a didactical approach, the authors have structured each chapter to explain key concepts and show practical examples followed by underlying theory and provided exercises to facilitate learning in each chapter. The textbook gradually eases the reader into the fundamental concepts and leads them towards complex theories and applications. In summary, the general competencies gain after reading this book are:

– to understand, explain, and discuss space syntax as a method and theory;

– be capable of undertaking various space syntax analyses such as axial analysis, segment analysis, point depth      analysis, or visibility analysis;

– be able to apply space syntax for urban research and design practice;

– be able to interpret and evaluate space syntax analysis results and embed these in a wider context;

– be capable of producing new original work using space syntax.

This holistic textbook functions as compulsory literature for spatial analysis courses where space syntax is part of the methods taught. Likewise, this space syntax book is useful for graduate students and researchers who want to do self-study. Furthermore, the book provides readers with the fundamental knowledge to understand and critically reflect on existing literature using space syntax.   

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Table of contents (7 chapters)


“Space syntax first emerged over 40 years ago but this is the first book that provides a gentle introduction to the set of geometrical techniques that enable us to describe spaces and movement patterns in cities in ways that show us their relative importance in generating good design. Akkelies van Nes and Claudia Yamu have done a magnificent job in grounding the theory in the wider field of urban studies, making it accessible to a broad audience. A key work in the urban designer’s tool kit of methods.” (Professor Michael Batty, CASA, University College London)

“This book manages to assemble tips and guidance that until now were conveyed through word of mouth and teaching in one reference volume. In addition, the accessible presentation of the theoretical base and the guided exercises in this book will ensure that this book is set to become one of the ‘go to’ sources for space syntax for years to come.” (Professor Ruth Conroy Dalton, Lancaster University)

“This book is an excellent, hands-on introduction to space syntax, the architectural and environmental theory that demonstrates how the spatial configuration of pathways—whether streets, sidewalks, building corridors, or other fabricated spaces—plays a pivotal role in whether users come together physically or remain apart. Moving chapter by chapter from urban to building and interior scale, this book is trailblazing because it introduces newcomers to the space-syntax theory in step-by-step fashion that includes practical exercises and problems at the end of each chapter. The book includes a plethora of well-chosen photographs and well-conceived and well-drawn figures convincingly demonstrating the authors’ verbal claims. The book is a milestone in the space-syntax literature and should work to introduce a much larger academic and professional audience to the remarkable conceptual and practical value of space syntax.” (David Seamon, Department of Architecture, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA) 

“The two authors did an excellent job in introducing the subject to a wide audience, so I highly recommend this book. My congratulations to the authors for the newborn baby! My advice to the readers of the book is that bear it in mind the living structure view while going through the book.” (Bin Jiang, University of Gävle, Sweden)

“Introduction to Space Syntax is definitely a much-needed contribution to the textbook market in architecture, urban design, and related subjects on the built environment. The book puts together both the theoretical background as well as the methodological approach of Space Syntax: including observation methods and the use of specific software. This is the first time that a comprehensive approach on Space Syntax has been attempted. The two founding books for this subject are “The Social Logic of Space and Space” by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson, where most of the theoretical background can befound, and “Space is the Machine” by Bill Hillier, where a collection of ground breaking syntactic ideas are put forward, many through case studies. Nevertheless, none of the two books offer explicit instructions as how and when to apply one or another measurement or observation technique. Here you will find it!” (Margarita Greene, School of Architecture, CEDEUS, Universidad Católica de Chile) 

“This book provides an excellent framework for understanding and comprehending space syntax by creating a consistent and understandable space syntax language for easy communication with practitioners and space syntax novices from urban planning, urban design and other related disciplines. Simple visual and diagrammatic language is created for successful communication of space syntax results with practitioners who need to understand these results. The book provides a foundational knowledge on which interested researchers as well as practitioners can built upon to become the most experienced space syntax researchers. The book is also a great resource for university professors who teach space syntax both at undergraduate and graduate levels.” (Ayşe Sema Kubat, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Civil Engineering, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway

    Akkelies van Nes

  • Department of Civil Engineering and Energy Technology, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway

    Claudia Yamu

About the authors

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. Van Nes is regularly invited to run space syntax workshops worldwide and every International Space Syntax Symposium since 2007. She is frequently invited to give keynote presentations at international conferences.

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, sheexcels in combining the theoretical innovations with practice-oriented solutions and has been involved in numerous international space syntax projects. She is invited regularly to lead space syntax workshops focusing on its application in research and practice.   

Bibliographic Information

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