Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evaluating urban ambience – an investigation into quantifying the qualities of the walkable city

by Paul Osmond

Positive ambience represents a significant indicator of the liveable city; in turn liveability is an important dimension of sustainability. Qualities such as permeability (alternative ways through an environment), legibility (which makes a place comprehensible to an observer moving through it), and diversity of visual experience have particular resonance for the pedestrian. Insofar as these qualities reflect the shape of urban form, which is measurable, their physical expression may be evaluated and compared between areas of differing morphology.
This paper presents a case study from Sydney, Australia which compares a densely built-up, walkable inner-city neighbourhood with an outer suburban site from the perspective of the urban design qualities outlined above, based on the evaluation of several measurable morphological parameters associated with those qualities.
Space syntax analysis is employed to determine the configurational metrics of integration (“depth” of the street network), street connectivity, and intelligibility (correlation between connectivity and integration). Fractal geometry is applied to calculate the fractal dimension (the degree of self-similarity) of street networks and views from the vantage point of the pedestrian, which can provide insights into legibility and visual diversity.
The measured values of these physical properties are compared to estimate the relative performance of the study sites in terms of the associated urban design qualities, and on the basis of this “gap analysis” some practical design interventions are proposed to achieve a more pedestrian-friendly suburban environment.

more about Space Syntax:

Flat City; a space syntax derived urban movement network model

Making an Urban Oasis The Use of Space Syntax in Assessing Dhanmondi Lake Revitalization Project in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The Role of Space Syntax in Identifying the Relationship Between Space and Crime

Space Syntax: An Innovative Pedestrian Volume Modeling Tool for Pedestrian Safety

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