6,954 research outputs found

    The city as a socio-technical system a spatial reformulation

    Get PDF

    What do we need to add to a social network to get a society? answer: something like what we have to add to a spatial network to get a city

    Get PDF
    Recent years have seen great advances in social network analysis. Yet, with a few exceptions, the field of network analysis remains remote from social theory. As a result, much social network research, while technically accomplished and theoretically suggestive, is essentially descriptive. How then can social networks be linked to social theory ? Here we pose the question in its simplest form: what must we add to a social network to get a society ? We begin by showing that one reason for the disconnection between network theory and society theory is that because it exists in spacetime, the concept of social network raises the issue of space in a way that is problematical for social theory. Here we turn the problem on its head and make the problem of space in social network theory explicit by proposing a surprising analogy with the question: what do you have to add to an urban space network to get a city. We show first that by treating a city as a naïve spatial network in the first instance and allowing it to acquire two formal properties we call reflexivity and nonlocality, both mediated through a mechanism we call description retrieval, we can build a picture of the dynamics processes by which collections of the buildings become living cities. We then show that by describing societies initially as social networks in space-time and adding similar properties, we can construct a plausible ontology of a simple human society

    The knowledge that shapes the city:the human city beneath the social city

    Get PDF
    In the Atlanta Symposium (Hillier, 2001, 2003a) a theory of the social constructionof the city was presented. In this paper it is proposed that underlying the variouskinds of social city there is a deeper, more generic human city, which arises from thepervasive intervention of the human cognitive subject in the shaping and workingof the city. This intervention is explored at two critical stages in the forming of thecity: in the 'vertical' form-creating process by which the accumulation of built formscreates an emergent spatial pattern; and in the 'lateral' form-function process bywhich the emergent spatial pattern shapes movement and sets off the process bywhich an aggregate of buildings becomes a living city. The nature of these cognitiveinterventions is investigated by asking a question: how do human beings 'synchronise'diachronically acquired (and diachronically created) spatial information into asynchronic picture of ambient urban spatial patterns, since it is such synchronicpictures which seem to mediate both interventions? A possible answer is sought bydeveloping the concept of 'description retrieval', originally proposed in 'The SocialLogic of Space' as the means by which human beings retrieve abstract informationfrom patterns of relations in the real world. Our ability to retrieve such descriptionhappens, it is argued, at more than one level, and can includes the high-level notionsof the grid which seems to plays a key role in cognitive intervention in the city.Finally we ask what the ubiquity of the human cognitive subject in the formation ofthe city implies for how we should see cities as complex systems. It is argued that,as with language, there is a 'objective subject' at the heart of the processes by whichcities come into existence, and that this provides us both with the need and themeans to mediate between the social physics paradigm of the city, with its focus onthe mathematics of the generation of the physical city and phenomenologicalparadigm with its - too often anti-mathematical - focus on the human experience ofthe city. Since the intervention of the cognitive subject involves formal ideas andhas formal consequences for the structure of the city, we cannot, it is argued, explaineither without the other

    The architectures of seeing and going:or, are cities shaped by bodies or minds? And is there a syntax ofspatial cognition?

    Get PDF
    In my first paper to this Symposium, it was argued that the human cognitive subjectplayed a key part the shaping and working of the city. The key mechanism was thesynchronisation of diachronically experienced (and usually diachronically created)information into higher order pictures of spatial relations, the guiding form for whichwas an abstracted notion of a grid formed by linearised spaces. This notion wasargued to be both perceptual and conceptual, serving at once as an abstractedrepresentation of the space of the city and as a means of solving problems, such asnavigational problems. In this paper, the question addressed is where the notion ofthe ideal grid comes from, why it has the properties it does, and what it has to dowith the real grids of cities, which are commonly of the 'deformed' or 'interrupted'rather than 'ideal' kinds (Hillier, 1996). The answer, it is proposed, lies in the verynature of complex spaces, defining these as spaces in which objects are placed so asto partially block seeing and going, and, in particular, in certain divergences in thelogics of metric and visual accessibility in such spaces. The real grid, deformed orinterrupted, is, it is argued the practical resolution of these divergent logics, and theideal grid its abstract resolution. In both resolutions, however, the resolution is moreon the terms of the visual than the metric, suggesting that cognitive factors are morepowerful than metric factors in shaping the space of the city. The question is thanraised: do people have or acquire the concept of the grid, perhaps as some kind ofperceptual-conceptual invariance of spatial experience in complex spaces, and dothey use it as a model to interact with complex spatial patterns of the urban kind?This possibility is examined against the background of current opinion in the cognitivesciences

    Studying cities to learn about minds: some possible implications of space syntax for spatial cognition

    Get PDF
    What can we learn of the human mind by examining its products? The city is a case in point. Since the beginning of cities human ideas about them have been dominated by geometric ideas, and the real history of cities has always oscillated between the geometric and the ‘organic’. Set in the context of the suggestion from cognitive neuroscience that we impose more geometric order on the world than it actually possesses, and intriguing question arises: what is the role of the geometric intuition in how we understand cities and how we create them? Here I argue, drawing on space syntax research which has sought to link the detailed spatial morphology of cities to observable functional regularities, that all cities, the organic as well as the geometric, are pervasively ordered by geometric intuition, so that neither the forms of the cities nor their functioning can be understood without insight into their distinctive and pervasive emergent geometrical forms. The city is often said to be the creation of economic and social processes, but here it is argued that these processes operate within an envelope of geometric possibility defined by the human mind in its interaction with spatial laws that govern the relations between objects and spaces in the ambient world

    Between social physics and phenomenology

    Get PDF
    In recent years, both phenomenology and social physics, which might be thought of asoccupying the humanistic and scientific poles of urban discourse, have taken an interestin space syntax as a means of furthering their academic aims. Here we suggest that thiscould presage a far deeper theoretical integration of the multi-disciplinary study of citiesthan either currently envisage

    The art of place and the science of space

    Get PDF

    A theory of the city as object: or, how spatial laws mediate the social construction of urban space

    Get PDF
    A series of recent papers (Hillier et al 1993, Hillier 1996b, Hillier 2000) have outlined a generic process by which spatial configurations, through their effect on movement, first shape, and then are shaped by, land use patterns and densities. The aim of this paper is to make the spatial dimension of this process more precise. The paper begins by examining a large number of axial maps, and finds that although there are strong cultural variations in different regions of the world, there are also powerful invariants. The problem is to understand how both cultural variations and invariants can arise from the spatial processes that generate cities. The answer proposed is that socio-cultural factors generate the differences by imposing a certain local geometry on the local construction of settlement space, while micro-economic factors, coming more and more into play as the settlement expands, generate the invariants

    The genetic code for cities – is it simpler than we thought?

    Get PDF
    September 200

    Spatial sustainability in cities: organic patterns and sustainable forms

    Get PDF
    Because the complexity of cities seems to defy description, planners and urban designers have always been forced to work with simplified concepts of the city. Drawn from natural language, these concepts emphasize clear hierarchies, regular geometries and the separation of parts from wholes, all seemingly at variance with the less orderly complexity of most real cities. Such concepts are now dominating the debate about sustainability in cities. Here it is argued that space syntax has now brought to light key underlying structures in the city, which have a direct bearing on sustainability in that they seem to show that the spatial form of the self-organised city, as a foreground network of linked centres at all scales set into a background network of mainly residential space, is already a reflection of the relations between environmental, economic and socio-cultural forces, that is between the three domains of sustainability. Evidence that this is so in all three domains is drawn from recent and new research, and a concept of spatial sustainability is proposed focused on the structure of the primary spatial structure of the city, the street network
    corecore