Special Issue "Space Syntax and the Sustainable City: Theory, Methods and Applications"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Claudia Yamu
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, University of Groningen, Landleven 1, 9700AV Groningen, the Netherlands
Interests: urban analytics and modeling; computation; space syntax; decision support; sustainable cities and regions; fractal cities; urban morphogenesis.
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Akkelies Van Nes
Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Civil Engineering, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, 5020 Bergen, Norway
2. Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology, 2628BL Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: socio-economic and spatial performances of metropolitan regions; road building and urban change; mobility flows and shopping areas; new town versus old towns; space and crime in urban areas; the compact city and urban sustainability; developing spatial analyses tools and planning theory.
Prof. Dr. Chiara Garau
Website
Guest Editor
DICAAR, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture, University of Cagliari, Via Marengo 3, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
Interests: smart cities; urban and regional planning; participatory processes; cultural heritage; smart tourism; urban governance and urban policies
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The popularity of the theory and method space syntax has grown rapidly in recent years. It connects the fields of spatial analysis and urban design in the arena of transport, land use and people’s behavior. Coined in the 1970s by Bill Hillier and his colleagues at Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, it allows for analyzing spatial relationships with regard to urban performance and change. In its wider context, space syntax is a set of techniques that can be applied individually and in different combinations with one another. 

In the context of climate change, space syntax allows for an understanding how spatial parameters can encourage or limit sustainable urban transformation and sustainable mobility means. This is extended by the investigation on the connection between the sustainable city debate and existing space syntax theories to build knowledge on the relationship between space and society. The challenge is that sustainable development concerns both normative and descriptive issues, and here, we are dealing with present as well as future needs. In order to predict future needs, a descriptive approach is needed from a present context. The aim of this Special Issue is to bring together state-of-the art knowledge and innovation connecting space syntax with the sustainable city debate.

Relevant topics include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Spatial and social justice;
  • Space and energy use;
  • Data-informed design and planning;
  • Transport planning and land use studies;
  • Online and informal economies;
  • Urban morphogenesis;
  • Theoretical and methodological development;
  • Urban policy making.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Yamu
Prof. Dr. Akkelies Van Nes
Prof. Dr. Chiara Garau
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • space syntax
  • sustainable cities and regions
  • spatial and social justice
  • data-informed design and planning
  • transport planning and land use studies
  • online and informal economies
  • urban theory

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Relationship between the Spatial Configuration and the Fourth Sustainable Dimension Creativity in University Campuses: The Case Study of Zernike Campus, Groningen, The Netherlands
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9263; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219263 - 07 Nov 2020
Viewed by 490
Abstract
To date, little is known about the spatial aspects of the creativity of university campuses and their public spaces. This study recognises that creativity is the fourth sustainability, because the spatial configuration of campuses and city-university accessibilities are ‘creative solutions’ conceived for human [...] Read more.
To date, little is known about the spatial aspects of the creativity of university campuses and their public spaces. This study recognises that creativity is the fourth sustainability, because the spatial configuration of campuses and city-university accessibilities are ‘creative solutions’ conceived for human needs. At the same time, creative ideas depend on interactions between individuals and the built environment. Therefore, based on the theoretical framework of the scholars who have explored the spatial aspects of creativity, this study empirically investigates Zernike Campus, Groningen, and its public spaces using a mixed-methods approach that involves (1) a space syntax analysis of the campus’s spatial configuration, (2) volunteered geographic information (VGI) of the users’ perceptions, and (3) non-participatory observations of the interactions between people and the built environment in public spaces with high and low ‘potential for creativity’. The results show that creativity cannot be explained simply by analysing spatial configurations, but that it also depends on the combination of the land-use mix, physical features, positive experiences, and perceptions of a sense of place which enable trust and interactions, and which facilitate creative encounters. Therefore, the mixed-methods approach applied here can help urban planners and designers to address public spaces more effectively, integrating conditions that support creativity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Scientific Approach to the Densification Debate in Bergen Centre in Norway
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9178; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219178 - 04 Nov 2020
Viewed by 539
Abstract
The municipality of Bergen in Norway aims to densify fifty per cent of new housing within the city’s central parts. The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation ordered and financed an investigation to be carried out by the Western Norway University of Applied [...] Read more.
The municipality of Bergen in Norway aims to densify fifty per cent of new housing within the city’s central parts. The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation ordered and financed an investigation to be carried out by the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and the consulting firm Asplan Viak to give research-based input to the densification strategy debate in Bergen. This article demonstrates how the Space Syntax method can be applied to urban densification strategies in urban planning and policy making. The Geographical Information System (GIS) is used to obtain, select, and aggregate operational information. First, the spatial attributes that constitute an area’s attractiveness were registered. Then, this analysis was modelled after the Spacescape® method. Next, the Space Syntax methodology was applied to predict to-movement and through-movement flow potentials. Finally, through weighting the relevant parameters, including impediments such as land ownership, twelve areas were identified as having major potential for transformation based on their overall score. As it turns out, the spatial structure of the street and road network is the underlying driver for how and where to densify. Now, the challenge is how to apply this knowledge into current planning practice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Spatial Configurations and Transport Energy Usage for Planning Sustainable Communities
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8146; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198146 - 02 Oct 2020
Viewed by 660
Abstract
Energy usage in cities is intertwined with its spatial configuration—the denser and more compact the city, the more concentrated and efficient the energy usage is to be expected. To achieve sustainable communities, cities (and their inhabitants) must reconsider its spatial configurations in the [...] Read more.
Energy usage in cities is intertwined with its spatial configuration—the denser and more compact the city, the more concentrated and efficient the energy usage is to be expected. To achieve sustainable communities, cities (and their inhabitants) must reconsider its spatial configurations in the context of rapid urbanisation and growth in light of limited resources and conflicting spatial claims. This article seeks to understand how spatial configurations affect transport energy usage in cities and propose an integrated assessment approach factoring spatial configurational analysis in relation to transport energy usage at the micro- and macroscale. Comparing Bergen, Norway, and Zürich, Switzerland, findings showed that spatial configurations were positively correlated to transport energy usage. Street structures suitable for walking and less suitable for car traffic tended to exhibit lower amounts of energy usage. Following this, nine typologies of transport and land use patterns are described to support planning for more sustainable means of transport. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Homothetic Behavior of Betweenness Centralities: A Multiscale Alternative Approach to Relate Cities and Large Regional Structures
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7925; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197925 - 24 Sep 2020
Viewed by 331
Abstract
Regional configuration can reveal important aspects about city sustainability, as local-regional interactions shape the evolution and inner geography of urban settlements. However, modelling these large-scale structures remains a challenge, due to their sheer size as physical objects. Despite recent improvements in processing power [...] Read more.
Regional configuration can reveal important aspects about city sustainability, as local-regional interactions shape the evolution and inner geography of urban settlements. However, modelling these large-scale structures remains a challenge, due to their sheer size as physical objects. Despite recent improvements in processing power and computing methods, extensive time periods are still required for ordinary microprocessors to model network centralities in road-graphs with high element counts, connectivity and topological depth. Generalization is often the chosen option to mitigate time-constraints of regional network complexity. Nevertheless, this can impact visual representation and model precision, especially when multiscale comparisons are desired. Tests using Normalized Angular Choice (NACH), a Space Syntax mathematical derivative of Betweenness Centrality, found recursive visual similitudes in centrality spatial distribution when modelling distinct scaled map sections of the same large regional network structure. Therefore, a sort of homothetic behavior is identified, since statistical analyses demonstrate that centrality values and distributions remain rather consistent throughout scales, even when considering edge effects. This paper summarizes these results and considers homotheties as an alternative to extensive network generalization. Hence, data maps can be constructed sooner and more accurately as “pieces of a puzzle”, since each individual lesser scale graph possesses a faster processing time. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sexual Violence in the City: Space, Gender, and the Occurrence of Sexual Violence in Rotterdam
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7609; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187609 - 15 Sep 2020
Viewed by 891
Abstract
There is a need for knowledge of how the spatial features of the urban environment can shape the potential for safe streets and a gender inclusive society. This research reveals the relationship between a built environment’s spatial features, the presence of various types [...] Read more.
There is a need for knowledge of how the spatial features of the urban environment can shape the potential for safe streets and a gender inclusive society. This research reveals the relationship between a built environment’s spatial features, the presence of various types of people, and gender-based sexual violence in the public space of four neighborhoods in Rotterdam. Detailed sexual violence data are obtained from the police on a street resolution level for correlation with the spatial data on a micro and macro scale level (the space syntax method) and registrations regarding human behavior on streets at different time periods. Pooled Poisson regression models were created to explain the number of sexual violence reports per street and per block. The result is that there are correlations between the occurrence of sexual crimes, the number of people and women on the streets, local spatial integration, the land use of streets, and temporal aspects. Non-residential streets are safe during the day but become dangerous at night, and mixed land use is safer than mono-functional areas. A high degree of inter-visibility for entrances generates high degree of natural surveillance, resulting in greater safety on streets. A residential street with higher flow of people has fewer incidents than mono-functional commercial blocks. Commercial blocks have higher numbers of incidents at night due to the lack of natural surveillance from windows on the ground floor after shops close. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Cultural Heritage Framework for Preserving Qatari Vernacular Domestic Architecture
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7295; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187295 - 06 Sep 2020
Viewed by 874
Abstract
Architecture and urbanism in the Arabian Gulf region, and specifically in the State of Qatar, offer many scenes to observe the loss of urban identity and cultural heritage in the various components of the built environment, including residential architecture. Many people attribute this [...] Read more.
Architecture and urbanism in the Arabian Gulf region, and specifically in the State of Qatar, offer many scenes to observe the loss of urban identity and cultural heritage in the various components of the built environment, including residential architecture. Many people attribute this to rapid development in globalization and the adoption of Western standardization in planning and design practice. Conversely, in the field of architectural sociology, scholars argue that socio-cultural factors such as privacy, gender segregation, and hospitality are the important variables for determining the spatial form of Islamic residential architecture. This research study aims to investigate the degree to which the shaping of the spatial form in a sample of Qatari vernacular courtyard houses embeds socio-cultural factors based on morphological analysis of human behavior and activities in domestic space. The study utilizes space syntax analysis to explore the spatial connectivity of four Qatari vernacular courtyard houses related to domestic functions as a realization of inhabitants’ system of activities and a manifestation of culture as a way of life. The study’s findings shed light on the spatial formation of Qatari vernacular courtyard houses as a realization of socio-cultural imperatives, thus reflecting the essence of societal formation in the domestic architecture of old Qatari settlements. The insights from this research study can help to contribute to a cultural heritage-framework for the preservation of distinctive Qatari Vernacular Residential Architecture based on the analytical criteria of housing spatial form, socio-cultural factors, and the interrelation between both. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Form and Function in Two Traditional Markets of the Middle East: Souq Mutrah and Souq Waqif
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7154; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177154 - 02 Sep 2020
Viewed by 580
Abstract
This paper presents some of the findings of a study comparing the form and function of two traditional markets on the Arabian Peninsula: Souq Mutrah in Muscat, Oman, and Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar. Globalization and rapid urbanization characterize both Doha and Muscat, [...] Read more.
This paper presents some of the findings of a study comparing the form and function of two traditional markets on the Arabian Peninsula: Souq Mutrah in Muscat, Oman, and Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar. Globalization and rapid urbanization characterize both Doha and Muscat, which share similar historical origins as coastal settlements despite stark differences in topography; Oman is mountainous, whereas Qatar is flat. We investigate the urban morphology, land use and function of the two souqs using several representational techniques typical of morphological research, including space syntax analysis. The purpose is to develop a deeper understanding of (1) the evolution of space and form in these marketplaces over time, and (2) the possible implications for their functioning as urban places. The analysis demonstrates the critical importance of the contextual relations at the macro- and micro-scale of the urban environment for understanding the complex nature of these souqs as places today, helping to deepen our knowledge about traditional markets in the Middle East. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring Challenges in Space Syntax Theory Building: The Use of Positivist and Hermeneutic Explanatory Models
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7133; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177133 - 01 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1038
Abstract
The planning and building of sustainable cities and communities yields operational theories on urban space. The novelty of this paper is that it discusses and explores the challenges for space syntax theory building within two key research traditions: positivism and hermeneutics. Applying a [...] Read more.
The planning and building of sustainable cities and communities yields operational theories on urban space. The novelty of this paper is that it discusses and explores the challenges for space syntax theory building within two key research traditions: positivism and hermeneutics. Applying a theory of science perspective, we first discuss the explanatory power of space syntax and its applications. Next, we distinguish between theories that attempt to explain a phenomenon and theories that seek to understand it, based on Von Wright’s modal logics and Bhaskar’s critical realism models. We demonstrate that space syntax research that focuses on spatial configurative changes in built environments, movement and economic activities can explain changes in a built environment in terms of cause and effect (positivism), whereas historical research or research focusing on social rationality, space and crime or cognition seeks to develop an understanding of the inherent cultural meaning of the space under investigation (hermeneutics). Evidently, the effect of human intentions and behaviour on spatial structures depends on the type of rationality underlying these intentions, which is the focus of this study. Positivist explanatory models are appropriate for examining market rationality in cases that entail unambiguous intentionality and that are associated with a high degree of predictability. By contrast, other kinds of reasoning require a hermeneutic understanding. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Multi-Method Tool ‘PAST’ for Evaluating Cultural Routes in Historical Cities: Evidence from Cagliari, Italy
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5513; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145513 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 753
Abstract
Thematic paths are a central aspect of urban policies for cultural heritage valorization. In fact, thematic paths are central spatial features for structuring the image of a historical landscape. Hence, this study proposes the cultural paths assessment tool (PAST) as a methodological framework [...] Read more.
Thematic paths are a central aspect of urban policies for cultural heritage valorization. In fact, thematic paths are central spatial features for structuring the image of a historical landscape. Hence, this study proposes the cultural paths assessment tool (PAST) as a methodological framework for individuating a network of routes connecting cultural heritage components and for assessing their usefulness. Usefulness is herein defined as the potential of a street network to support the meaningful experience of a historical urban landscape. PAST combines space syntax techniques, a geographic information system, and a qualitative analysis within a multi-criteria analysis framework for addressing four aspects of connecting cultural heritage components, including: (i) the individuation of relevant assets; (ii) the identification of the sub-network of most central street segments; (iii) the definition of the street network of thematic routes; (iv) the assessment of the usefulness of thematic paths, according to the criteria of usability, imageability, and accessibility. The proposed methodology, applied to the historical district of Marina in the city of Cagliari in Italy, supports planning and design processes in two ways: (1) by identifying street segments and squares comprising a network of thematic routes; (2) by individuating high-leverage interventions for improving the usefulness of thematic routes. Consequently, the proposed study addresses the need to establish methodologies and analytic tools that support decision making processes for conserving, managing, and valorizing historic urban landscapes. Full article
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