A Scientific Approach to Better Urban Design

Urban design is not an easy activity because of the multitude of variables that impact the overall urban experience. There are buildings, traffic (foot and vehicular), landmarks, natural occurrences like rivers, and abstracted economic forces. Space Syntax is a company has set out to make better urban design by using science to calculate the probability of positive spaces being built.

Stonor says his ultimate goal is for the science to catch on with other design firms and consultancies. In a way, he wants to put himself out of business. He says he wants architects and planners to learn to use space syntax themselves, and not rely so much on his consultancy.

Academically, space syntax has caught on in many other schools and countries. However, the Bartlett at University College of London – where Hillier and Hanson developed the science – is still its primary research center. The academic and business sides work closely, a relationship that Stonor says is vital. The academics feed him new ideas, and his company field-tests their research. In addition, every tool and most of the studies produced by both the business and academic sides of Space Syntax are open access and available online.

Read more at Wired’s Map Lab.

Here’s an example of one their reports:

Space Syntax_Informal Settlements Brochure