IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Space syntax: some inconsistencies


  • Carlo Ratti


This paper reports on a number of inconsistencies that appear in space syntax -- a well-known technique of urban analysis -- when dealing with certain geometrical configurations. At a simple level, the analysis of regularly gridded urban textures (such as Manhattan's) reveals the difficulty of accepting the claim that space syntax allows the modelling of pedestrian choice making. In more complex cases, the distortion of two ideal textures produces a topological discontinuity, leading to the unacceptable situation where one single urban configuration produces two conflicting outcomes when analysed with space syntax tools. Several other points are also discussed, such as the difficulty of space syntax to take into account building height and land use, and its sensitivity to boundary conditions. Conclusions seem to suggest that the topological representation of cities, on which space syntax is based, discards precious metric information and is rather limiting. It is envisaged that with current increases in computational power new algorithms might allow a deeper understanding of urban texture, based on the full exploration of its metric and topological properties. This would contribute to answer the fascinating question which space syntax has helped to frame: what is the influence of urban configuration on social life?

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Ratti, 2004. "Space syntax: some inconsistencies," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 31(4), pages 487-499, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:31:y:2004:i:4:p:487-499

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Abhijit Paul, 2013. "Reviewing the axial-line approach to capturing vehicular trip-makers’ route-choice decisions with ground reality," Transportation, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 697-711, May.
    2. Burak Beyhan, 2011. "Spatial Characteristics of Labor Mobility and Innovation inside an Industrial Cluster: Some Reflections from Siteler in Ankara," ERSA conference papers ersa10p421, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Wagner, Roy, 2008. "On the metric, topological and functional structures of urban networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 387(8), pages 2120-2132.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:327-:d:128967 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lamíquiz, Patxi J. & López-Domínguez, Jorge, 2015. "Effects of built environment on walking at the neighbourhood scale. A new role for street networks by modelling their configurational accessibility?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 148-163.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:31:y:2004:i:4:p:487-499. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.