Friday, April 22, 2011


by Rômulo José da Costa Ribeiro and Frederico Rosa Borges de Holanda

There are various indicators of quality of life, among them the well known Human Development Index (UN). The paper explores ways of including configurational dimensions in the definition of such indexes. It superimposes the integration measure of Space Syntax Theory and socioeconomic indicators mainly based in education, health and income levels, as well as the localization of jobs and the distribution of the varied residential densities in the city. It is argued that the procedure is telling as far as the relationships between the various social classes and the city are concerned. The Federal District in Brazil, i.e. the national capital Brasilia, is the case-study. The city presents many peculiarities that are further illuminated by the findings of the paper. Brasilia presents the lowest average density among Brazilian State Capitals. Furthermore, a study carried out among 58 cities of all continents, indicates Brasilia as the second most dispersed city in the world (an attribute that is independent of average density). Brasilia also concentrates immediately around its CBD more than 80% of all formal jobs in the metropolis. Finally, the rich live near the centre and the poor in the peripheral satellite nuclei, as in other cities in Brazil. Such peculiarities imply that relative localization of homes, jobs and services are more important than elsewhere in contributing to the standards of living. Here, to be (syntactically) integrated and rich, and (syntactically) segregated and poor, means a high bonus to the former and a heavy burden to the latter. Traditional socioeconomic indicators such as the Human Development Index miss important attributes that characterize the standard of living in Brasilia. Analysis will be carried out in minute detail, using the census sectors as the basic spatial unit. Census sectors are geo-referenced and include the basic socioeconomic indicators that are needed. GIS tools will be used in order to correlate syntactic integration with the variables of the census sectors. We will end by "weighting" the quality of life indexes by means of configurational measures at a global level of the city, and arrive at a sociospatial quality of life indicator, that includes dimensions which are absent in current indexes of standards of living.

previous papers about the applications of the Space Syntax theory:

Poverty and Connectivity: Crossing the Tracks

QUANTIFYING THE QUALITATIVE: an evaluation of urban ambience

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

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