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SPACESYNTAX  November 2009

SPACESYNTAX November 2009

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Subject:

Re: Space Syntax studies of public spaces

From:

Daniel Koch <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 3 Nov 2009 21:27:45 +0100

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Dear Karen,

 there have been several studies, although not as common as for
instance urban settings or 'fully' public spaces like museums
(although they are often more regulated than urban spaces). For
instance there are papers by Polly Fong ("What makes big dumb
bells a mega shopping mall" 2003), Alan Penn
("The Complexity of the Elementary Interface: Shopping Space",
2005), Jorge Gil et al ("The Different Behaviour of Shoppers:
Clustering of Individual Movement Traces in a Supermarket",
2009), to name but a few - I'm sure others can fill in.

I have myself studied both large public libraries (publicly
owned) and large department stores (privately owned), and have
found remarkably strong similarities in e.g. movement patterns,
which also come close to the same principles as in traditional
urban settings. Compared to other findings, however, there seems
to be three important questions for to what degree the spatial
configuration (which is the spatial property space syntax deals
with) affects for instance movement:

1. The complexity of the system. Larger, more complex systems
seem to mean space has more impact (large department stores vs.
smaller supermarkets). See e.g. McMorrough who makes a good point
about spatial complexity of different consumption spaces (2001).

2. The strength of the programme. Offices and the like have
strong programmes that (to various degrees) override or change
the role of spatial configuration. I suspect some "public"
settings would do the same. It's worth to note that from many
perspectives it's not so much a question of overruling as by
programme defining what spatial system (or sub-system) that is
part of people's use patterns, as well as other factors than e.g.
movement becoming comparatively more important.

3. The parts of these complexes above that behave in this
"urban-like" manner are the public parts. Both in terms of
spatial model and behavioral patterns.

Now, the correlations I have found are not quite as high as for
urban settlements but remarkably high, which also have a lot to
say about how and why people think and do visits to these places.
That is, I concur with what Joao said, but it needs to be
highlighted that many assumed "programmed" spaces in this sense
do not act like programmed spaces - department stores, from many
points of view of movement and other behavior patterns (but far
from all!) behave more like cities than like many other buildings.

Anyway, I have spent quite large parts of my Ph.D. Thesis from
2007 discussing how these patterns are used to affect behavior
and perceptions of private and public, some of which made it into
a recent paper which also puts some new stuff on the table
(2009). That paper, unfortunately, is most of what I got in
abbreviated form (the ph.d. is rather lengthy), and it does focus
on movement patterns. However, the dept. stores quite
deliberately (if subconsciously in some cases) do make use of
spatial descriptors of private and public, and staging that puts
demands on knowing how to act for certain places but not others,
however, indirectly regulating a number of things.

The more "palpable" narrowing-down of options that I observed
during the research, however, hasn't made it in there aside from
smaller comments in the Ph.D. as it was more about description,
representation and indirect (spatial) regulation. But, it was
quite significant (such as how quickly you're noticed as "not
shopping"). The trick is that this to such a high degree is
self-regulating (see e.g. Bennet).

It's also not specifically on the type of spaces you're asking
about, as malls have often a more defined separation between
'shop' and 'street', although this is blurring some lately. 

I'm not sure how helpful this is reg. your question, but I can
always try to expand if it would actually happen to be so.

If you're searching outside of SpS I'd have a number of
suggestions, but this mail is long enough as is and it's not
quite on topic for the list... Anyway, you can find Most of what
I've done on the subject via www.arch.kth.se/sad, or I can send
stuff to you if you want.

Best
Daniel Koch

Back to 
Joao Pinelo skrev:
> Karen,
>
> In the urban realm the Natural Movement Theory usually applies
(see B Hillier, A Penn, J Hanson, T Grajewski, J Xu; Environment
and Planning B; 1993, Vol 20 (1) p 29-66).
> In buildings, or sub-systems where the control goes beyond the
usual (the hoodies you mentioned, or the gates being closed,
etc), many factors especially embedded  in the design will
influence behaviour and movement patterns (I'm not suggesting
they are the same). In these cases  yes, there are potentially
differences. However, this has to do with the effective control
over the space which does not allow for an articulation to take
place which naturally integrates and segregates destinations.
Although less likely, this may occur in the urban environment
too. This is another reason Space Syntax methodologies'
contribution is so great to diagnosis.
> In the sphere of private sub-systems there is generally a very
strong presence of programs. In these cases movement patterns are
many times more likely to be dictated than chosen. As a
consequence movement patterns do not always 'follow'
configuration. In these cases there is a great chance that the
setting works in a disarticulated way (in an non-natural and/or
non-intuitive and/or non-optimal way). This can be either
promoted by the developer in order to create a certain control
over the user (to make them follow a certain path not 'handing-in
the key' for a sensible use of the facilities, while keeping it
clear enough as to keep staff free from wayfinding inquiries-
e.g. IKEA shops; or just a consequence of less-good design in
which case the results are more unpredictable. (Just to clarify,
I'm not suggesting that in IKEA  configuration is not followed,
the one visually accessible to the user probably is).
> Good design will thus always consider configuration and get it
working for the benefit of the program.
> A notorious peculiarity of sub-systems is the access. The way
this is designed greatly influences the interface and the use of
the configuration in the sub-system.
> So if your question is if configuration accounts for movement
patterns in private sub-systems, I would say it generally does.
However we must acknowledge that in these conditions the user is
many times deprived from freedom/information and this may bias
movement patterns. The reason this is more frequent in private
systems is due to an increased control and focus in a particular
program, although good design would be aware of configuration and
use it on its favour.
>
> Joao
>
>
>
>
> On 3 Nov 2009, at 13:29, Karen Martin wrote:
>
>> Hi Joao,
>>
>> Thanks for your response and question. I'll try to be more
precise..
>>
>> I'm interested in spaces which are flexible as to function
under non-specific circumstances, e.g. streets, public parks,
squares as well as more well-defined, publically accessible
spaces such as shopping centres and transport hubs in which it's
often possible to observe people engaged with activities that do
not fit with the intended function of the space e.g. teenagers
flirting in a shopping mall or a homeless guy washing in the
bathroom of a railway station.
>>
>> My question is whether there are any differences in
configuration and use between public spaces which are privately
owned and therefore able to establish their own rules, for
example the notorious ban on wearing hooded tops at Bluewater
shopping centre, and those spaces which exist in the public realm
and are controlled by regulations set by local or national
government, such as a town high street. (This is rather a rough
categorisation, I realise these issues are often not terribly
clear-cut) 
>>
>> Does that help?
>>
>> Karen
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> 2009/11/3 Joao Pinelo <[log in to unmask]>
>>
>>     Dear Karen
>>
>>     Is your question about the planning and design differences
between settings:
>>     1. that have been planned for a well defined and
relatively narrow use and to function under a specifically
controlled way
>>     and
>>     2. built to extend the public space and be flexible as to
function under non-specific controlled circumstances?
>>
>>     Joao Pinelo
>>
>>     On 3 Nov 2009, at 09:35, Karen Martin wrote:
>>
>>>     Hello,
>>>
>>>     I wonder if anyone can help me..
>>>
>>>     Does anyone know of any work done with Space Syntax
exploring whether there are any differences in spatial
configuration and use between privately-owned public places (for
example, a shopping mall) and more truly public spaces such as a
high street? (I realise these definitions aren't easy to make.. ) 
>>>
>>>     To give you a little context, I'm an EngD student looking
at the effect of mobile technologies on peoples relationship to
'in-between' spaces and the question relates to how public and
private-public spaces are similarly and differently constructed.
>>>
>>>     Thanks for any help...
>>>
>>>     Karen
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     -- 
>>>     T.  +44 (0)7930 384082
>>>     E.  [log in to unmask]
>>>     W. www.prusikloop.org
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> -- 
>> T.  +44 (0)7930 384082
>> E.  [log in to unmask]
>> W. www.prusikloop.org
>
>
>
>
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-- 
___________________________________
Daniel Koch
PhD | Researcher | Teacher
KTH School of Architecture
070-545 05 22 | www.arch.kth.se/sad

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