Thanks for coming it’s it’s actually
it’s a great honor to have been asked to give this year’s Kevin Lynch memorial
lecture and a special honor to be doing so on behalf of Bill Hillier who can’t
be here this evening. Bill is recovering from breaking his leg but he sends his
best wishes and I know he wants to be here. He and I have spoken by Skype to
prepare for this. He’s written part of it I’m going to fill in a few gaps and
together we want to focus on the past a little bit but especially what’s
happening currently and what we plan to happen in the future with Space Syntax
and I’m not going to be able to do justice in the time available to the
breadth and the depth of Bill’s genius and I used the word genius
carefully because I think Bill is a genius. He’s one of the few that we could
truly hold at that level and this evening I may only touch on concepts
that each deserve a good deal more time to explain and to discuss and equally I
can only mention a few of many hundreds if not thousands of projects that Bill
and his colleagues at space syntax have helped to create, be part of over the
past four decades or so some of us are in the room this evening thanks for
being here Eduardo, Billy, Anna and maybe a few others that have been part of that
part of the process. But what I do hope I will do is paint a picture of Bill’s
achievement albeit a personal one. You may have your own version of it I’m
going to give mine. I want to talk especially about the future
because the future is important. Bill is not obviously sentimental he’s far more
likely to want to talk about something he’s currently working on than something
he’s done in the past something he doesn’t yet understand as much more
interesting he hasn’t ever to my knowledge sought
prizes but he’s enjoyed them when they’ve appeared and I know the Lifetime
Achievement Award was certainly one that that mattered but maybe like other
recipients of the award he wondered why it was being given so soon. When I spoke
with him last weekend he explained what he’d really like to be talking about
this evening is what he’s currently working on. That’s often the case
with emerging thinking he’s not quite sure he’s right about. In other words
this there’s more to be done. But he was keen to shape this evening and therefore
I want to begin with a few words from Bill and in summary he says how we
design cities is how we understand them and goes on to say by understanding we
mean having some kind of mental model linking the physical and spatial
patterns that make up the city to how they are experienced by people and how
they work for them and this may involve spatial ideas for example about the
relation between local neighborhoods and the city as a whole and functional ideas
for example about how and where active centers and sub centers can be located
whatever its source he says we can think of this as a structure function model
and it will tell us rightly or wrongly that if we design the space of the city
in this way rather than that then it will
change how the city is experienced and how it works and I know he was very
pleased and excited too to say Kevin Lynch took the question of such a model
in the direction of science by bringing to light five spatial and physical
concepts through which people describe the cities they saw in Lynch’s work.
Paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks and as Lynch acknowledged
these are not independent of each other. For example edges will normally be the
edges of districts and nodes will be the meeting of paths nor are there argued to
be general principles of how the concepts relate to each other to form
the city as a whole other than to exploit these inter dependencies. In fact,
and this is where speaking to Bill, he got very excited, from the point of view of
the city as a whole there’s a remarkably interesting proposition in the image of
the city, which is when Lynch says here, the paths the network of habitual or
potential lines of movement through the urban complex are the most potent means
by which the whole can be ordered. And I think Bill thought he’d written that. I
think that’s why he was so excited. Such a connection. Bill goes on to say,
compared with this network, Lynch adds, the edges districts nodes and landmarks are the design of other elements. The form of the city and the interrelating of the five
elements arises from how the network of paths is constructed. So the priority of
this path network, Lynch’s path network and cities is shared by Space Syntax in
its attempt to take the question further in the direction of science
by testing spatial forms against observable functions rather than just
human descriptions. This is still Bill speaking, putting his work in the context
of Lynch’s. So whereas Lynch was talking to people, what Bill and we have been
doing is also observing people; observing and gathering data. Bill says Space
Syntax argues that many of the key concepts for understanding the city as a
spatial and functional system can be derived from the analysis of the street
network. The research question posed by space syntax is, is there a formal
procedure to describe the spatial structure of the city which both
captures its characteristic spatial forms and maps observable functional
patterns with enough rigor to test the link between the two. Between form and
function. And that this turns out to be the case. That you can do this is due to
the fact Bill says that the procedure brings to light a fundamental relation
between the spatial structure of the city and its functioning. That, other
things being equal the key determinant of movement in the lines that make up
the city is the spatial configuration itself. How each line relates to all the
others. We call this phenomenon, of the degree to which movement is shaped by
the urban grid, the law of natural movement. It generally underlies many
structural phenomenon which are common to most if not all cities. I think if
Bill were being less modest he would say all all cities work according to natural
movement and all towns and all villages in all insides of buildings. But these
are his words not my interpretation, for the moment. Bill goes on to say, through
this fundamental law of natural movement the procedure can, in
scientific terms lead from a structure function model, to a testable structure
function theory of the city. One which could serve both our increasing need for
scientific understanding of the city in terms of its economic and social
performance and as a model for use in design. The procedure of space syntax
generates a set of memorable concepts which summarize the syntactic structure
function theory of the city as far as it has so far been developed and can be
used to define the theory as Lynch’s five concepts define the view of the
city that emerge from his research. Finally Bill says, understand these
concepts and you understand space syntax. So, this is the bit where I take
over let me in one slide try to explain the five key concepts that underpin
space syntax. I’m going to do it without changing slide. Without showing you any
fancy graphics because it’s the concepts that matter the computation comes next
but it’s the concepts that are the foundation. I’ve got a bit to say about
them. This is going to be the slide that stays on the screen longest so you can
pitch everything else I’m going to do from here on in as being shorter than
this slide. But it’s the important one. So the first key concept is the description
of space itself. That it’s possible to break the apparent chaos and complexity
of the city into discrete elements that can be the subject of computational
analysis. In most space syntax analysis that discrete element is the road
centerline between one street intersection
and the next. It’s really that simple. The street element between one
intersection and the next is what we compute. It has a length. It has an
orientation north south, west east, some angle in between. Length and orientation.
And then at one end it may have no other connections, if it’s a cul-de-sac.
Or at the other end it might have many if it’s a circus. It might just have
three more if it’s a typical two way intersection. These are all very simple
numeric concepts that allow you to build a mathematics of space. And along it,
it’ll have a number of buildings or other spatial elements. Those buildings
will have a size and a use you can attach measures of attraction, measures
of capacity, to everything along the street, so you can measure space. That’s
the first key concept that space syntax offers. You can define the chaos. Secondly
and most importantly, as Bill has already mentioned, is the theory of natural
movement, which demonstrates that the more connected streets are better used.
Connectivity is measured using a computer algorithm. It’s beyond the
ability of the human brain to measure all of the connectivity in even a
moderately sized spatial system, so we use algorithms. And what they do is they
measure how likely it is for example that people will want to flow down any
particular street in the city as they move from A to B. The algorithm
calculates all possible journeys using not only the distance of the journey as
an input but also the complexity of the journey and this is the USP of space
syntax. Most traffic models, very many other spatial models, do not
include complexity, and as a result they don’t work particularly well, to
describe real human behaviour. What the space syntax algorithms have been
written to do is to acknowledge the way the brain thinks in navigational terms.
That when we compute how we’re going to get to somewhere, we think not only of
the distance it is, but how easily geometrically we can make that journey.
Most people most of the time take the route that involves the least angular
deviation from origin to destination. Some of us wander and don’t. Maybe the
urban design group is, is a group of wanderers but most people most of the
time take the cognitively simplest journey.
It means our brains have to think less about navigation. By implication I think
it means our brains can think more about what we’re seeing. Who was he.
What we’re saying. What we’re thinking. It’s a way of minimizing the processing
of the brain, to take the simplest route from A to B. It’s not what I was taught
as an architect though. I do not know about you in the room I was taught to wander and I
was taught that everybody else was doing that. Follow a few people, and you discover
otherwise. I will come on to that later. This is being discovered and proven, if you like
the link between connectivity and movement thousands of times now, over a
couple of decades. It’s no longer a question. For me actually it’s one of the
most important discoveries in science. If there were a Nobel Prize for urban design
and there may yet be one I think Bill would win it The third concept describes cities as
movement economies. In other words it explains how land uses in the city
arrange themselves to take advantage of the natural
movement pattern. The shops move to the more connected streets, with more natural
movement. And the houses move in the majority to the side and the back
streets. The fourth concept of the simultaneously multi scale city adds a
fundamental description of human life in cities, which is that activity you see on
any street is typically a mix of people moving across longer and shorter
journeys. The proportion of longer to shorter journeys may vary from the more
connected to the less connected streets but it is always to a degree there.
Multi scale movement and the human interactions that are
induced by this are fundamental to trade. To both social and economic transaction.
One of the shortcomings of modern planning has been to overly
separate global and local movement. I’ll come back to this later in the talk.
We’ve we’ve not done the multi scale thing very well. I think it has
implications for the integration of new people into existing places as well
which we might come into under discussion fifth and finally the concept
of the dual grid provides a definition of the purpose of cities it allows us to
distinguish for any scale of movement between the foreground grid of the main
routes and the background grid of the minor routes this is so important to
concept I’m going to quote bill directly again that I can’t get it wrong finally
he says space in cities works in more than one way the foreground network is
structured to maximize movement and it is so because it is driven by
Pro economic factors which benefit from high levels of movements while the
background network restricts and structures movement and does so because
it is driven by social and cultural factors which find expression in the way
residential space is structured so the dual networking cities reflects
functional as well as spatial processes this is an instance bill says of the
more general potential of space to operate in two ways space can be used
generatively to create new patterns of movement and so Co presence and
potential relations in the social system or it can be used conservatively to
express and so reproduce existing social patterns and structures the former is
associated with spatial integration the latter with spatial segregation the
former with the foreground grid the latter with the background grid the
difference between the foreground and background grids is the difference
between Morpho genetic and more conservative space
the former more for genetic focuses movement to create development and
change the latter diffuses it to keep things as they are this generic
structure seems to underlie all cities in some sense and to some degree and we
must conclude that beneath the individuality and cultural typing of
cities there is a universal generic city which makes the city what essentially it
is all societies must in some sense be morphogenetic in order to cope with
changing technological and social circumstances and all societies must
also act in ways that reproduce their structures hence the dual use of space
cities are spatially massive more for genetic machines that produce change set
into a conservative back which stabilizes their structure this is
the generic city it was I believe says bill the discovery of the generic city
that first made urban societies possible and personally I think that’s brilliant
we’re simultaneously coping with change while reproducing ourselves enough that
it doesn’t feel like chaos now is how we deal with technological change societal
change demographic change continuously and simultaneously conserving and
producing no other slide will be that long even at the heart of the space and
taps approach is actually a very simple desire for thriving life and societal
stability therefore this is me speaking now plenty of action on the foreground
grid of Main streets and in the center’s social and economic interaction
transaction and innovation and inquire propose in the background both mainly
residential streets and if we can look beyond the clever computation that often
accompanies space in tax what matters is thriving life however
this is where I’m going to be a bit of self-critical in many space in times
presentations I don’t know about you but there’s a wash of technical analysis
which is sometimes obscured the key cultural messages there’s too many grass
too few statements of fundamental so therefore importance which i think is
forgivable in a young discipline trying to find its way in a hostile context
thinking of the 1980s confronted at every turn by the architectural estab
by the Home Office by transport planners not by urban designers not at all far
from it and it’s far easier in those kinds of circumstances to withdraw and
to talk a secret language of the clique rather than the common language of the
crowd I think it’s also understandable that in academic circles space syntax
needs a certain esoteric scientific rigor of debate but the discipline is no
longer in its early years or even its teenage years and the needs of cities
are more than academic and so I believe space in fact is mature now and it needs
to behave that way the context is no longer hostile to the discussions of
space connectivity place people walking active frontages the 80s and 90s are no
more and in an increasingly urbanizing world in which car centric paradigms
still dominate despite all our efforts science is needed I believe more than
ever to make sense of the pace of change which is an increasing pace a change in
global urbanism and as one of the few scientific attempts in urban design to
explain cities space syntax needs to work even harder to have its voice heard
and if you think this is any kind of criticism of Bill Farr fright there’s
been no better person in my experience at presenting space syntax to a
non-academic audience than bill go and watch his piece for tomorrow’s world
this is as now I’ll do my best
I think there’s a loose connection if you Google YouTube it tomorrow’s world
1993 discussing spatial connections with a group of residents who understood
exactly what he was saying who understood that not all upper level
walkways were automatically bad and in many ways build developed space syntax
for these communities space attacks was accelerated through engagement like this
at line house basin in the early 1980s shortly afterwards at coins Street and
standing up to developments that were recognized locally as being wrong for
people wrong for local communities providing as Bill did the evidence of
science to build a better case for those communities to object and then later not
only to object but to propose to help design places for people but to do it
with the developers with the architects not against them in public inquiries and
since then space syntax has been involved in some of the most important
projects in the UK such as the redesign of Trafalgar Square I know it’s been
spoken about by Peter Heath at one of these events before where what we did
was to explain the old design of Trafalgar Square didn’t work
first through observation then through the construction of a spatial model that
explained why people walked around the edges of the square because the routes
through the middle were much more spatially dislocated it was much more
convenient just to walk slightly further around the outside and this diagnosis
produced a creative idea from Bill to build a new staircase in the center of
the square the modeling showed how this bottom-left would have a major
positive impact on pedestrian flows hot red lines through the middle of the
square and bill shared this idea in a project review with Norman Foster and
Norman and the team accepted it it was delivered it was built and of all the
architects we’ve worked with I think Norman Foster seems to understand space
syntax the best not that there’s a competition but but it’s interesting
that he he says I know these techniques work from the tough environment of
practice I love the world of analysis observation of research but also passion
in precision the hunch space syntax is the testing of the interaction of these
opposing worlds and he couldn’t put it no one could put it better space syntax
is not a scientific press the button it will happen process it’s a means of
testing ideas anyone’s ideas from within the community professional or
non-professional and from that dialogue emerges design to to foster it’s not
just a set it pretty if sometimes complicated pictures to post
rationalizes preconceived design ideas it’s not a techno wash to bamboozle the
uninitiated I’ve seen other people do that maybe you have to it’s not it’s a
design tool it mediates between the rational science and the artistic
emotion and I can say it with confidence because I’ve seen it firsthand working
with Bill since about 1992 and currently working with Bill with Norman Foster
again the foster foundation on this project you may have seen to expand
London’s cycling capacity with another five hundred million cycle journeys a
year by putting decks above the train tracks into central London not to remove
cycling from street level as has been cynically assumed by people who never
spoke to us but actually to add to it to make London more cycle friendly
and to create opportunities to connect across the tracks and make London work
even harder those tracks often divide how can they better connect so whether
at that fine scale of Trafalgar Square or Broadgate or Old Market Square in
Nottingham project that bill Jana was very closely involved in or the large
scale of spice spice Skycycle space syntax was conceived as a tool to
facilitate design to take the guesswork out of it and as a young architecture
student I thought why wouldn’t I want that I think it’s fair to say much of
what we’ve done has been behind the scenes as in the creation as helping in
the creation of the Queen Elizabeth Park for the London Olympic and Paralympic
Games where what we did was to shape the design of the Olympic Park master plan
so that it made connections better connections with those communities to
the west and east of it and this means the park remains today an active part of
the city in London and many other places but this space interacts approach has
been used on a wide range of projects including and I quite love it the humble
pedestrian crossing why shouldn’t we make these things even better or much
better than they currently are and sometimes more prominently such as here
in Darwin in the Northern Territory Australia where we worked with the Lord
Mayor and her team of advisers including people like Oxford Brookes educated
Steve thorne the Diaspora of UK education to create a plan that that
doubles the size of that city in a way that will create new street based
urbanism with enhanced land values we went through a master plan process of
many design workshops community consultations and during this we ran the
model live to fine-tune create a grid to connect to the exist
city on the left with the new extension of the city to the right we produced the
final master plan and inked in the buildings based on a network of streets
and spaces that integrate the new with the old but always analyzing it to make
sure that strong connections were being made into and through the new
development but also some quieter less well connected streets too in this way a
hierarchy of connection as the foreground and the background grid being
created and also that the existing city centre would remain active it wouldn’t
have its life drawn away as often has been the case as cities have expanded as
their centers have moved not in this case we needed to keep this a city of
multiple centers turning theory into practice and influencing policy but also
influencing investment we built an urban value model using the analysis as a key
input using space syntax analysis to demonstrate the impact on future land
values by being able to show how in the existing city the connectivity of
streets was directly related to the value of buildings we could then take
the master plan measure the connectivity in the new streets and projected into a
real-estate value and I have to say that’s the moment where the real estate
investors in the rooms sit up and listen the you know they’ll moderately be
concerned with discussions of active frontages but if you start talking to
them in terms of their net present value and their internal rates of return and
stick a figure like 3.7 billion Australian dollars in front of them they
listen and we’ve never done this before that’s another fact of or factor of the
process a key lesson from practice is that it provokes research if you
organize it correctly the studio of design can be as fertile as the research
environment at a university not everyone into
academia agrees or wants to agree but it’s true and it’s one of the reasons
Bill engages so closely with the consulting company space in tax limited
that does this kind of work it’s not to make money it’s to make ideas he sees
the company as his source of inspiration but it’s not to say we don’t work
closely with academia far from it for example the UCL led urban buzz project
gave us an opportunity around ten years ago to develop Bill’s controversial
research into burglary to finesse his findings about the importance of spatial
layout and it’s a complex explanation not for this evening but in summary
better connected streets such as those on the Left can reduce hence the – the
lifetime costs of an area from burglary the cost of replacing the windows the
insurance premium hikes then disconnected layouts on the route on the
right which increase them but only when other factors are in place – such as
being able to see several front doors from your front door if you like this is
putting I think tried and tested or intuited principles of urban design into
scientific coding so they can be replicated and as I’ll come on to later
disseminated it’s not enough for us to know this stuff we have to have embed
this in policy so armed with this kind of knowledge we can address the UK’s
house building challenge designing urban extensions that integrate with existing
places and spatial accessibility modeling provides a an evidence platform
to test proposals on so we can add in the thousands of new houses and say do
they connect sufficiently connect too much I don’t need to say where it is if
anyone knows where it is then there’s there’s no prize just my admiration but
this is happening all over the UK new extensions probably not like this though
because we work really hard folk like Paul murrain David Taylor
to sculpt a foreground grid in red that linked into the existing foreground grid
onto which we placed the shops we placed the principle civic facilities and then
a background grid of quieter residential streets hi movement on those main
streets providing footfall for the shops sufficient movement on the background
grid to create that natural surveillance that bills
previous research had shown was essential to facilitate safety and I’m
gonna highlight a village but I didn’t want any of this they didn’t want any
new movement at all so part of what we did was to make sure that from the
existing to the new that village barely changed at all so we can knowingly
design with movement that’s one of the great benefits of space in fact to then
bring it to discussions stakeholder consultations and ask people to comment
outside the UK elsewhere in the world I think the challenges are different to a
degree and arguably far more important here we’re in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia
we’re about a third of the population of that city lives in unplanned informal
settlements one third but if you’re a wealthy car driver
you might hardly notice these people because this is your view your route
hierarchy calculated for journeys of about 10 kilometers the model picking
out in red those routes that are more likely to be selected by people moving
at this scale analysis which of course can be verified by correlating the
output of the spatial model with actual vehicle camps got to make sure the model
works and so that’s the view of the driver if i dial down the analysis which
i’m going to do next to say pick out for me those routes that are important if
we’re walking for about five minutes it’s pretty hot in Jeddah we might not
get to ten but let’s go up to about 400 600 meters those are the routes that are
important it’s geometrically different at that
scale and it’s completely different set of routes than the car routes Jeddah is
two different cities in one the car city and the foot city and each of these hot
spotted places is an unplanned informal settlement give people their own
decision taking ability and they build walkable communities give it to the
planners certainly here in Jeddah they build highways who’s right I think
there’s a lot for us in our profession to learn but cities like this so cities
of two different scales completely two different worlds so quite different to
London or Paris or Vienna or Manhattan or Tokyo or many other world cities that
have developed over history where local and large-scale movement coexists on the
network remember the dual grid where you’ve got local and large-scale
movement coexisting in Jeddah no the traffic engineers have been so
successful as to render the boulevards sterile so this diagnosis then allowed
us to reap to create redesign proposals which were very largely about preserving
within here an unplanned settlement as many of those local walkable connections
as possible widening a few in order to allow the movement of service vehicles
emergency vehicles to allow the introduction of fresh water the removal
of waste but not overly to do it what then was the target was the outside of
the unplanned informal settlement where the master planning work we did was
aimed at creating new connections outwards from the insight to the
boulevard Network to sport to the highway network slowing
down the highway network to create a Boulevard reducing the design speed so
that buildings could front the highways rather than back onto them as was the
current planning or the previous planning regime and this was essentially
the design concept to turn that impenetrable ring into a color of active
frontages so that if you live in the unplanned settlement you could locate
your market on the outside and trade to that wealthy world beyond if you were
driving past you would be now driving at a speed where you could pull over and
engage with that world a spatially led project but it isn’t just unplanned
settlements outside the UK that needs spatial surgery closer to home does
anyone recognize where we are a number of recently planned new towns anyone
want to venture where we are no prizes no punishments there’s no one recognized
this town I’m not going to say where it is but it’s what go on go on it’s
Christmas no no it’s not Bracknell not Milton Keynes not Vista kinda looks like
them all though doesn’t it I mean isn’t this terrible this place has no
distinguishing features that any of us remembers it what have we been doing planned by the nation’s finest minds have these new towns have recognized
limitations in their spatial structures their their land-use dispositions and
the resulting patterns of socio-economic activity so they they’ve asked for help
to redesign themselves not Camborne we’re in scale miss Dale ladies and
gentlemen who’s been to scale Estelle yeah one or two
who’s been to Darwin in the Northern Territory oh it’s much more interesting
there’s usually more people have been to Darwin than to scale miss Dale um but
what we’re seeing here is what we have in jeddah it’s this fundamental
disconnect between the global and the local it’s the stuff that’s separating
the foreground Main Street Network from the background residential street
network it’s not only and this is where I might get myself into trouble but I
know where the exit is it’s not only the highways that do this
it’s the landscape people’s lives are stifled by green and speak to people who
live there and they will say this despite how much we might lord the
creators of the new towns who did an incredible job at the time the product
is divisive and if this one spatial condition that we therefore see most
often at space syntax it’s the overly fragmented city of disconnected
development the diagram on the left it kind of all connects but only if you’ve
got a car we might soon need to say the overly disconnected corridor of garden
villages in quote me on that what history offers is a different model
it’s the integrated city of continuously connected neighborhoods where you can
walk between one Center and the other without ever realizing you’ve passed
from one neighborhood to the next walk from Camden to his Linton between
Cottier in Paris because the edges of those neighbourhoods are not defined by
a highway or an overly wide landscape swathe but by what bill calls the fuzzy
boundary you know there’s one to take away the fuzzy boundary of residential
streets green streets though with trees with hedges with verges but streets all
the same and this is not about environmental compromise it’s the
opposite the ecologists tell us that cities of Green Streets are ecologically
more diverse than the countryside so we can have our cake we can even eat it so
we need streets large and small and continuously connected grids of streets
with occasional exceptional parks and open spaces but not a patchwork quilt
like pseudo city of disconnected areas the key element of urban design is still
continuously connected network of streets 21st century should be no
different to the 19th or before but it should be very different to the 20th and
I want to go next from the everyday of the urban design into some work that you
may or may not have seen slightly unconventional uses of space syntax but
I think very important ones to support the planning and design process but not
always the everyday good stuff some of the bad stuff some of the emergency
planning is what I want to talk about next because it builds on a lot of bills
early research space syntax is now being used in a number of these innovative
ways for example we’ve used spatial layout modeling to speculate how a
failure of London’s flood defences especially the thames barrier would
impact on the large-scale movement patterns of the city I think we all know
intuitively that the loss of central London’s bridge connections under that
grey there on the image word devastate communications but how
precisely and what would the new route heart hierarchy look like so modeling
allows us first to identify the likely concentrations of people before the
flood where they are and also the key movement channels in red and orange that
are likely to be using taking day to day we can always be more sophisticated and
increasingly it’s almost automatic now by loading up each of those locations
with the precise land use mix and capacity as well as the location and
capacity of transport routes bus networks tube train this is all becoming
incredibly easy but in general that sort of thing creates an autocorrelation it
turns out the law of natural movement means space alone is a pretty powerful
predictor of human density so then let’s bring the water in and it’s when you
remove those central London connections all that would be under water you can
see London’s movement pattern changes entirely and this kind of analysis where
it flips to the outside it flips to the m25 and it goes inwards now it can
inform a mergency response planning as well as evacuation control in the longer
term it can help prioritize the repair and reopening of movement corridors and
of course similar principles apply to any major urban events and consequent
evacuation as they did in Christchurch in New Zealand following the earthquakes
of 2011 has anyone here been to Christchurch in the last few years quite
a remarkable place where the very center of the city was removed by the
earthquakes it was cordoned off closed by the army for several years and before
the earthquakes here it’s that nexus of red roots and right in the middle of the
slide that’s the CBD so all the shops are where the majority of businesses the
bigness located and overnight it was gone
then what happened in order for Christchurch to adapt or
otherwise suffer catastrophic economic failure people had to relocate and I
think two things are worth pointing out about how Christchurch did it first is
the connected grid layout the legacy of history both pre-modern planning when
Christchurch was laid out like every other city in history as a continuously
connected grid it was essential to the city survival because it created a
choice of routes so that movement could immediately adapt to road closures
contrast this with cities where which have increasingly funneled their traffic
onto a restricted set of major highways if you lose one of those chances are the
hole might easily go down so the continuously connected grid is in itself
a resilient urban form but secondly the emergence of new sensors this one here
Stanwell Road wasn’t wasn’t there before you see it wasn’t there but because the
middle of the spatial system was no longer accessible movement was diverting
around it Stanwell Road was getting more natural through movement and it’s been
fascinating to track the migration of business to Stanmore Road its emerged as
a new urban center is the issues it now faces are with the reopening of the city
centre will it survive should it be subsidized or should it just be closed
back down to what it was if we think about cities in these resilient ways of
having more than one life we might be able to plan for contingencies in a more
sophisticated way some contingencies are short-lived and they can seem random and
chaotic for example the London riots in 2011 in August and and we looked at the
time indeed we looked at this while the events were
folding because we had access as did everyone to social media feeds but
especially the Guardian ran a verified riot incidence analysis which we we were
harvesting in real time and geo-locating so we were using a geographic
information system to pinpoint where these riot instances were emerging and we then ran analytics to say you know
what why is it happening where it’s happening and more importantly why isn’t
it happening in some places and not least because we were in the office we
wanted to know you know should we send the staff home or are we sending our
staff home into more danger than where they currently are so the first thing we
did was to correlate those locations with the index of multiple deprivation
public available data if you have a geographic information system very easy
to visualize and and there was a correlation 84 percent of the locations
where the rioting was occurring were in places which had a higher than average
index of multiple deprivation we could have stopped there and I’m glad we
didn’t because that’s not good enough didn’t explain those places where it
wasn’t happening there were plenty places that are deprived on this score
but weren’t seeing rioting happening so we dug a little deeper we zoomed in on
North London and South London and we analyzed it against spatial
accessibility and we found similar kind of proportion of those incidents 84
percent falling within 400 meters of an important street a spatially accessible
Street measured by the space and tax algorithm again useful but there were
spatially accessible streets with no rioting
so we then and they said I think it’s the controversial bit we then brought in
another kind of analysis a little bit difficult to see on this image but in
black are those parts of the street network that are very fine scale highly
spatially dense but not particularly accessible ie
the main 20th century housing estates very fine scale very permeable but not
very accessible because typically they’ve been built away from Main
streets without through movement and 100% of the locations we looked at fell
within 800 meters of both an accessible Street and a housing estate now
precisely why this should be the case is open to speculation and to further
research it’s the kind of work that we couldn’t do live but our colleagues are
doing at UCL another academic places is it because the rioters lived or
socialized on these estates certainly Bill’s work in Chapter five of the
spaces the machine can architecture cause social malaise here’s an
investigation into the different patterns of behavior between 19th
century Street networks and 20th century housing estates where he finds children
not mixing with adults on housing estates children therefore growing up
without adult supervision intervention however formal or informal the
speculation is that there is a socialization process that goes on
whereby kids are growing up according to the role to their own rule net rule
system it’s speculation but it’s the kind of speculation that can be provoked
by this kind of analysis not everyone agreed with us I’m sure not everyone in
this room will be in agreement or even comfortable with these kind of results
but it does provoke questions that can then lead to further investigation okay
in drawing to a close over the next few minutes I want to I’m not going to have
the opportunity to talk about the insides of buildings to the urban design
group the urban the insides of buildings I don’t know if they compute of course
they do but a lot of our work at space in taxes is about the good stuff
happening site buildings about where people meet
how people browse galleries like the taste the old tape gallery here how they
communicate in offices and share ideas and how they can be looked after in
hospitals more humanely what we’ve done here on the left is follow a hundred
people for ten minutes as they arrived at the entrance to the Tate at the
bottom on the left and maybe maybe you’ve all done it it’s a very still
legal exercise to walk behind someone at a comfortable distance and just observe
them bill were here he’d probably want to talk about the sexy building which is
the idea that you can manufacture encounters with people you choose to
manufacture encounters with by anticipating where they’re going to walk
and then taking another route in order to then haha come across them in a room
of the building and then on the right analyzing the visibility patterns
available from not just from each room of the Tate but from each half metre by
half metre tile of space within each room so you can produce a very fine
grained analysis that explains why when people go to the tape they tend to head
off to the left why so few of them get over to the bottom right which is where
the Turner’s are best paintings in Britain but potentially the least
visited best paintings in Britain and why the spatial layout of the Tate is
culpable in the patterns of movement co-presence that you encounter in in
that building so let me thinking of the future try and
summarize what we’re doing at space syntax with bill’s work we’ve built this
company around the central idea of creating and then nurturing this concept
of thriving life I think however our clients and partners approach us whether
it’s about the bad days or the good days the idea is common to their interests
they want to engenders rive in life and then we wrap this idea in a
process that has these two key characteristics it’s science-based
and it’s human focused it’s not using science just for the sake of it it’s
trying to bed it into the way people live as bill said at the beginning and
these have bills for words actually when I asked him to try and summarize space
syntax in one sentence a couple of years ago he did better than that he said well
for words science-based human focused and then there are three principle kinds
of activity that were engaged in we apply the approach in practice we
develop it continuously to try and keep pace of change and then we disseminate
it and that’s possibly the most important one of the three the
dissemination I’ll swear I’ll end in a couple of minutes first a quick tour of
the other two the apply and develop we apply space in tax through the
consulting company that helped with Trafalgar Square and many things since
and we’ve been advising for example on projects like Bloomberg which just
opened recently and if you haven’t had a chance yet to walk I thoroughly
recommend walking Watling Street which is the route that passes through the
heart of the Bloomberg estate carves up that estate into very uncomfortable
shaped buildings the sort of thing that would have been laughed out of
architecture school possibly even urban design school but we argued through a
modeling process that if you introduce Watling Street as you can see it it’s
actually recreating something that was there throughout history and it will
benefit the site it’ll draw movement through it it’ll help the Bloomberg
identity but it’ll also benefit the city around it and over about since about
1998 we’ve been promoting Watling Street on this site with various architects and
Fosters managed to bring it home and the space in tact studio leads and prepares
designs for for our clients public and private sector acting as a lead designer
on projects small parks large like entire cities we’re
working with bringing together multidisciplinary teams and acting as
the as the principal and this is for me this maturing I referred to earlier we
can’t just be the also quiet voice in the corner saying you really shouldn’t
have done that we have to leave we have to actually show what we think is the
right way forward as in China landing a new monorail system right into the
middle of a public square where it can engage and help justify the investment
to turn what’s currently a car park into a public space the heart of this is a
project review process bills very active in bill and I co-chair that and
everything I’ve just shown you is seen by that team from inception to
completion the development bottom-left of space in text you know we don’t stop
it would have been it is has been incredibly tempting just to say to
everyone stop you know let’s just have one technology and let’s just do it well
but it doesn’t keep pace with client interested and it doesn’t keep pace with
technological capability it doesn’t keep pace with data prevalence so the
laboratory engages in new research the digital works in the continuous creation
of new technologies I’m going to whip through some research but health health
health health and health are five key subjects that we are currently very very
involved in trying to understand loneliness and how it relates to car
dependency and air quality working with the future cities catapult to do
research and develop technologies to link data sets together understanding
walkability not just as a nice word but as a must-have there must-have for urban
development access to GPS not just in terms of their spatial location but
their quality so by having public datasets on what people think of
their local GP geo-locating them and then looking at the accessibility and
quality we can give better kinds of advice to the policymakers who want to
know what they should be opening and where as with schools again just a whip
through I just wanted to show you a couple of subjects we can’t do all of
this alone and we absolutely haven’t ever and don’t want to do that we’ve
always worked in partnership the last part the last third is really for me the
really important one the dissemination of space in tax and it’s very important
to Bill we absolutely do not want to cling on to this we want it to be in
general practice the fact it isn’t after a couple of decades of developing it is
a lingering regret and it’s something that we are working hard to make happen
we want it to be at the end of every pencil and it’s possible with
development and we don’t just want it to be the software we want it to be the
theories the methods and the data brief history we’ve been trying since ever
since I’ve known space in text to make the theories accessible through books
one of my challenges and running the consultancy in the early 90s was that I
discovered we had no IP it had all been published by the academics it was quite
a nice problem we didn’t have any IP lawyers to pay it was all out there it
was free we just had to continue to develop it and be the leader that’s the
that’s the imperative to us at space syntax and then one of the first
decisions we made with the software was to make it easier for people to get
their hands on it to be able to license it rather than as we as was happening
there was a kind of under whatsit at black market in floppy disks going
mostly happening at Oxford Brookes I have to say is you know villainous
activities up there which I’m I’m very glad people did pirate the software it
made its way to South Africa the Mandela bridge in Johannesburg wouldn’t have
been built while it may have been but it was certainly helped by a presentation
to Nelson Mandela with with space in tax and
justifying the route that was taken lots of other reasons lots of politics but
there was a bit of science there as well all done without our knowledge so we
said let’s formalize it have the software just we want to know who you
are and then we started to do the same with our data sets in 2009 a very very
important event happened which is that we open sourced our software so we made
it not only possible to license it but to hack it anyone to get their hands on
it and do it themselves this was a decision forced on us by Alistair Turner
who’d written the software but who was dying and it was his knowledge of his
condition that made it necessary for him to create a cohort of developers who
could continue his work after his death and it was you know if there is a silver
lining it was the best thing and it was the
real moment that we understood that open-source was the way forward anyone
whose proprietary about their software is going to face great cost great
expensive expense to develop it themselves and
Alistair has given us a great legacy shortly afterwards were about the same
time we publish spaces the Machine online
bills book from 96 because we saw it trading on Amazon for about two hundred
and fifty dollars a book that’s crazy so you know the first temptation is I’ve
got I’ve come sure I’ve got a copy somewhere yoky flog that second
temptation was to hire a graphic designer
build a website publish the book make sure that it was available for free and
just say that’s wrong you know 250 pounds for a book is wrong that’s when
you have to break the chain take it out the monastery and make it make it
available so we’ve done that that’s great publishing our theories
publishing our software but what we hadn’t published was our operating
manual and we realized and we could see people
using the software badly so in 2015 we finally having emerged from this
horrible thing called the global financial crisis had the funds with UCL
to jointly publish the online training platform in space syntax which gives
away our secret source and again it’s the most refreshing revelatory wonderful
experience is to give it all away so do take a look tell us what you think we’re
very very keen that we we publish everything at least once we know it
works and it’s a very different and unusual way of doing business we
recognize that but we’re not the only ones in the tech world to be doing this
we’re publishing in Chinese principally as a language as well as English we’ll
continue to publish in English because space interacts has really taken off in
China the demand from China is huge and I think it may not be an exaggeration to
say there are now more space in types researchers in China than in the UK
possibly more in China than the rest of the world combined
this is the first space syntax conference in China three two years ago
we didn’t advertise it 500 people turned up and they’re using space in text in
practice as well more than ever they need in China the operating manual to do
it well and the next international space intact symposium will be in Beijing in
two years time I expect to see you all there with your papers having
downloaders the manual we’re giving training in China too we’ve set up a
business there to provide training flying out from the UK working with
local partners recently trained the Changchun Institute of urban planning
and design these are everyday local authority planners now armed with
technology we’ll be out there in January to give them their second year of
training and just in case you didn’t notice those blue words around the
outside of the circle I’ve dealt with bottom rightly open-sourcing bottom left
the open accessing of our information the one at the top is matters very much
to my colleagues and I which is that we are now employee owned
and again part of Bill’s openness and our general approach has been that from
day one of your employment that’s based intact to your donor
no no nothing more day one is there a theoretical basis to this possibly city
is not a tree Chris Alexander at least a city shouldn’t be a tree we’ve seen a
few the city should be agreed and and I think so with business not a single
trunk or even a few branches and a lot of twigs but instead a multi system as
Alexander said so a business a multi system of many brains encouraging
reflective decision-making not singular Authority through being open and this is
the final piece we’re about to take a big step in 2018 which is we we’ve made
our core software open we’ve made our methods open we’ve made some of our data
open but we believe the way forwards to make it everything open level free will
either kill our business or we will nurture and expand it rapidly I choose
the latter but it’ll only happen if we remain at the forefront we have to keep
developing keep being the best at what we do and with this in in mind I’m very
pleased to announce today will soon be launching freely and openly this spatial
layout model of central London which is has been the basis for the work that
I’ve shown you from Trafalgar Square and on this is Barnes free where Bill’s
original work began it’s been built with thousands of hours of researcher and
consultant time millions of pounds of public and private money have been spent
on it we could have kept it to ourselves but we think it’s better to make it a
public asset we’re not just going to restrict it in fact a central London
we’re going to include the entirety of London in the
to set within the north and south circular roads and indeed beyond to
include the whole of London within the m25 we’ve connected it to a model that
was built with public funds of the whole of the South East of England and through
some work that we did with the government office for science to look at
the future of cities across the UK where I know some of us in the room were all
involved we’ve gone on to build a spatial model of England of Wales and of
Scotland will add Northern Ireland soon and this will be a publicly available
asset free and open as part of our dissemination we want other people to
have something that they probably won’t be able to afford to create themselves
so why should they and why are we doing it well it’s to place space and spatial
analysis where we believe it belongs actually what rather where we can see
science shows that it belongs which is right at the heart of things both
and this will be available from March thank you very much

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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