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A new theory of space syntax

By M Batty


Relations between different components of urban structure are often measured in aliteral manner, along streets for example, the usual representation being routesbetween junctions which form the nodes of an equivalent planar graph. A popularvariant on this theme ? space syntax ? treats these routes as streets containing one ormore junctions, with the equivalent graph representation being more abstract, basedon relations between the streets which themselves are treated as nodes. In this paper,we articulate space syntax as a specific case of relations between any two sets, in thiscase, streets and their junctions, from which we derive two related representations.The first or primal problem is traditional space syntax based on relations betweenstreets through their junctions; the second or dual problem is the more usualmorphological representation of relations between junctions through their streets.The unifying framework that we propose suggests we shift our focus from the primalproblem where accessibility or distance is associated with lines or streets, to the dualproblem where accessibility is associated with points or junctions. This traditionalrepresentation of accessibility between points rather than between lines is easier tounderstand and makes more sense visually. Our unifying framework enables us toeasily shift from the primal problem to the dual and back, thus providing a muchricher interpretation of the syntax. We develop an appropriate algebra which providesa clearer approach to connectivity and distance in the equivalent graphrepresentations, and we then demonstrate these variants for the primal and dualproblems in one of the first space syntax street network examples, the French villageof Gassin. An immediate consequence of our analysis is that we show how the directconnectivity of streets (or junctions) to one another is highly correlated with thedistance measures used. This suggests that a simplified form of syntax can beoperationalized through counts of streets and junctions in the original street network

Publisher: Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL)
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:
Provided by: UCL Discovery

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