Friday, February 4, 2011


by Yixiang Long, Perver K. Baran, and Robin Moore

The urban environment, to some degree, can facilitate/limit one’s orientation, depending on the structure and characteristics of the physical elements of the city. In this regard, Lynch’s (1960) concept of imageability/legibility has been fundamental in the urban design, planning, architecture, and environmental design fields for a few decades. Lynch argued that a strong imageable city could facilitate humans’ orientation in the city. However, urban design research has also criticized Lynch’s work for ignoring the relational characteristics between physical elements of the urban environment (Golledge & Stimson, 1997; O’Neill, 1991). Recent research has suggested that space syntax methodology could address the limitations of Lynch’s approach to urban spatial cognition (Kim & Penn, 2004; Penn, 2003; Kim, 2001). The discussed limitations in extant literature are being addressed in an ongoing research study undertaken in Changsha, China. In particular, we explore the relationship between humans’ cognitive representations and overall spatial configuration of an urban environment and the effects that different spatial configurations of an urban environment have on legibility of the environment. We use a space syntax approach to measure spatial configuration of neighborhoods and sketch maps, recognition tests as well as interviews to measure humans’ spatial representation and legibility of the environment. This paper will focus on the research methodology and present initial findings, that is, the relationships between perceived landmarks and spatial configuration.

Changsha, China, photo by lacitadelle

read more articles about Space Syntax:

THE SPACE SYNTAX AND CRIME: evidence from a suburban community

Solutions for Visibility Accessibility and Signage Problems via Layered Graphs

New Developments in Space Syntax Software

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