The following images of Berlin have been prepared by Anna Rose and Christian Schwander at Space Syntax Limited as part of a wider study of the city. They show the pattern of “spatial integration” in Berlin at three key periods in history: 1940, 1989 and 2011. The colours read like a temperature scale, with highest levels of integration in red, orange then yellow, and lower levels of integration in green, blue then dark blue. Spatial integration measures the degree to which an urban street is connected into the overall street network. Connectedness is a key influence on the social, economic and environmental performance of urban places. The effects of the post-war division are clear, with the once integrated centre becoming disconnected until Reunification after 1989.
With notable exceptions, the current use of technology in planning and, especially, urban design/architecture practice is medieval. More visual than analytic. More about the “Wow!” than the “Why?”, the “Which?” or the “Will it?” Example of animation in traffic models – “Our clients like to see them move!”
Urban imperative – rapid scaling up of urban centres – provokes need for new thinking.
We need to look more at how places work than how they look.
We need to bring academic research into practice and for academia to be better led by the needs of practice.
We need to think about online social networks as well as “real-world” physical/spatial networks. Indeed real world is as much online as physical/spatial.
We need to share our data. The future will be made by great partnerships, not great individuals. It has arguably ever thus been.
Community prosperity means social, economic and environmental prosperity. Each of these dimensions is strongly influenced by the physical design of the places where people live. Physical design influences human behaviour, which in turn influences community prosperity. The most important aspect of physical design is connectedness. Connectedness can be measured scientifically. Its effects on societal wealth have been identified by UK scientific research over the last forty years.
Yesterday evening’s debate at the Royal Institute of British Architects addressed the following motion:
“This house believes the value of design is not measurable”
The motion was overwhelmingly defeated. Rightly so – for, as long as architects claim that the value of design is intangible, the profession does itself a disservice. It is unsurprising that the real worlds of institutionalised politics, social activism and finance undervalue the contribution of design when designers claim that their importance is not only immeasurable but unmeasurable. This sounds hollow in the ears of people used to setting targets, taking action and measuring outcomes. Continue reading →