Space Syntax Approach for Articulating Space and Social Life

Space Syntax Approach for Articulating Space and Social Life

Abdelbaseer A. Mohamed (Al-Azhar University, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9238-9.ch011


This chapter sets out to provide a detailed description of the relationship between space and society. It begins by discussing how people co-live in spaces and how such spaces co-live as communities. Understanding the relationship between space and society requires shedding light on how (1) communities emerge and work and (2) people build their social network. The chapter's main premise is that spatial configuration is the container of activities and the way we construct our cities influences our social life. Therefore, the urban environment should be analyzed mathematically using urban models in order to evaluate and predict future urban policies. The chapter reviews a space-people paradigm, Space Syntax. It defines, elaborates, and interprets its main concepts and tools, showing how urban space is modelled and described in terms of various spatial measures including connectivity, integration, depth, choice, and isovist properties.
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The connection between the physical urban environment and society is obvious and whilst sometimes neglected; it is something that we have to consider when planning for people. The urban system allows societal processes to develop in a conditional sense. Meanwhile, the urban system is mostly a product of socio-cultural, economic, and administrative processes (Klaasen, 2003). Put differently, society shapes buildings and the way we organize these buildings influences our social life situations. However, the literature on social theory shows that historical changes have received more attention over space and geography. In fact, space was virtually absent in social affairs (Netto, 2007). Differentiation between traditional society and modern society of the nineteenth century was the core on which many paradigmatic approaches to social aspects were built. Near the end of the twentieth century, the role of space as a key element in (re)producing a society with its various socioeconomic conditions has been asserted by many experts in sociology, geography, anthropology, architecture and urban planning.

Among the question underlying discussions about space and society, three are perhaps key: (1) How does the type of society influence one’s behavior? (2) How do certain social choices relate to architecture and design? Or how can we understand our societies as spatial systems? (3) How can we measure the local and global properties of urban space? What follows is a selective discussion of theories on space and society, starting with theories from sociologists like Karl Marx and Max Weber, and ending with those from urban morphology pioneers like Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson.

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