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SPACESYNTAX  2001

SPACESYNTAX 2001

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Subject:

Re: axial maps

From:

Alan Penn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Alan Penn <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 5 Mar 2001 17:24:07 -0000

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> >>
> >Exactly right.
>
> GREAT!  So the purpose of studying space syntax is . . .. . . . . . ?
>
> Could it be: "Because spatial configuration  influences  the way
> people move through spaces, independent of other variables.
> Patterns of movement go on to affect many  (perhaps all) social
> phenomena." ?
>
> Just the one question today.   Please say  yes   Alan  :-)
>

No.... (sorry :-) thats slightly too simple, although I believe that
"Because spatial configuration  influences  the way people move through
spaces, independent of other variables.  Patterns of movement go on to
affect many  (perhaps all) social phenomena." is a reasonable but partial
statement.  But the purpose of space syntax is somewhat broader, and the
effects of space are also somewhat broader than just the mechanism based on
movement which you imply.

I would take the purpose of syntax to be closer to "understanding how
societies function, reproduce and transform, and understanding the role
played by the spatial environment in that." All these tools for representing
and putting numbers to spatial pattern are there to allow us to compare
differently planned environments on the same basis. By doing that we can
find things out about societies that build themselves different spatial
forms. By observing behaviour we can find out somthing about how those
societies reproduce, transact and generate new social forms, and about how
spatial environments relate to that. The effects of space patterns on
movement, and so co-presence, are clearly pretty fundamental, but are not
the only 'social facts' that relate to space. Consider logical elaboration
of a single architectural relation, or just building big, as this relates to
architecture's role in communication. Or the segregative effects of much
modern design set alongside opening up of visual fields (think of the
Barbican central space). These are every bit as 'social' in intent and
effect as the traditional city, but I suspect somewhat less easily
interpreted in terms of the mechanism about movement (except in the latter
case by the aesthetic involved in the denial of traditional forms). Take
also the role of the syntactic relations between spaces of everyday life in
the house or in other building interiors. Some of these may be related to
effects of movement on co-presence, but many would seem to be more about a
more straightforward cultural investment of meaning in 'integration' or
'segregation'. These for instance are often the level at which syntax
analysis gets used to help throw light on archeological evidence where
little might remain to tell us about movement, but where patterns of space
and occupation may still seem to tell somthing about the social forms.

So yes syntax finds that effects of space on movement are pretty
fundamental, but is this all of architecture? No. There is much more to it
than that, much of which (but by no means all) passes through different
aspects of the way that space is patterned.

By the way, baking and architecture seem to me to have a lot in common!

Alan

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