Planning Category

How HS2 should learn from HS1’s urban errors?

St Pancras Way will one day have active frontages, costing millions more than the initial HS1 investment. The blank frontages and negative street character that were originally built will eventually be transformed to create a place that London deserves. In the meantime, people walk through the loading bay, across the security barrier, past the blank […]

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Space Syntax City Projects Walk

On Tuesday afternoon, 3rd September, I led a walking tour of built projects by Space Syntax. Trafalgar Square Royal Festval Hall Tate Modern One New Change New Bloomberg Headquarters (under construction) Willis Building 30 St Mary Axe Heron Plaza (under construction) Liverpool Street Station retail concourse Broadgate, Exchange Square Barbican Arts Centre

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MSc Advanced Architectural Studies – graduate employability

A talk given at the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the MSc in Advanced Architectural Studies – the “space syntax” MSc at University College London, 3rd September 2013. Good evening, everyone. Let me begin by paying tribute to the genius of Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson. Not only for pioneering a theory – the theory – of […]

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Integrated Urban Modelling – Space Syntax’s approach

I’ve written before about the benefits of using science-based models in the planning and design process. I’ve raised concerns about the frequent lack of objective analysis in urban and building projects, and the risks this creates in decision-taking. Basing important decisions on gut instinct and experience, then willing on success with little more than hype, […]

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Unbuilt Britain: 3. A Revolution in the City

Broadcast 26th August 2013 on BBC4, featuring Space Syntax analysis of Wren, Hook & Evelyn’s plans for rebuilding the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666.   Link to the programme on the BBC website Link to the programme on YouTube Download a presentation of Space Syntax’s analysis “Using her skills to uncover […]

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Darwin CBD – Workshop 1 – Transcript of Tim Stonor’s presentation

Given by audio link to Darwin CBD Masterplan Workshop 1 on 21st August 2013. Download the presentation, including voiceover “Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Tim Stonor. I’m the Managing Director of Space Syntax and unfortunately I’m not able to join you for the workshop today. But my colleague Eime Tobari is with you and […]

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Avoid “blunt” urbanism by prioritising constraint

The high density versus low density debate is a blunt, catch-all discussion, which tends to divide opinion and create conflict. We need instead to find the issues that bring people together. My experience is that these tend to be about: – convenience – safety – sense of community and cultural identity – sense of privacy […]

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Teaching urban design – a sketch for a new approach

Sketch… Space Syntax is keen to play a role in initiatives that embed the Space Syntax approach in everyday urban practice. The watchword is “dissemination”. Our aim is to create a professional landscape that uses Space Syntax as an everyday approach to the planning, designing and general governance of places. Here are some of my thoughts […]

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HS2 – urban connectivity is key to maximising economic impact

This morning’s announcement by the UK government about the preferred route of the proposed ‘High Speed 2’ rail line north of Birmingham raises, quite rightly, the issue of economic impact and its geographic spread. Will the line draw commerce north, or make it even easier to pull southwards towards London’s greater critical mass? One way […]

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Are streets the answer – yes, but…

Yesterday’s launch by think tank Policy Exchange of a report calling for the removal of inner-city high rise estates and their replacement with streets is a welcome contribution to discussions about the design of future cities. The report, authored by Create Streets, concludes that high rise estates are unsafe, antisocial and economically substandard. By proposing […]

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Old Street – putting the genie back in the bottle?

Old Street Roundabout is a heady intersection of urban movement flows: on foot, on cycles and in vehicles, including the Tube. But it is currently a mess, out of place within the surrounding network of generally convivial streets. In order to appreciate the severely negative condition of the place you only have to walk to […]

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Smart Cities World Expo – speaking notes

Spatial layout influences Human behaviour: 1. Movement 2. Awareness 3. Interaction 4. Transaction. Spatial layout benefits 1. Economy – productivity – innovation – building & campus performance 2. Health – active travel – access to healthcare – building & campus performance 3. Social cohesion – the spatial network creates the social network 4. Safety – property theft – personal attack […]

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UBM Future Cities

My piece in full

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Planning to “plan” or planning to “process”?

There’s an argument for more deterministic planning – taking the guesswork out of it. Planning should create plans not just processes. We have clearly defined processes but uncertain physical and spatial plans. Too much is left to individual actors. More determinisitic planning, it is argued, will be to the benefit of investors, operators and end […]

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Is density just a fashion?

“It is possible that density is a fashion.” Anon It is also possible that low density is a fashion. Indeed this would seem from the evidence to be a much greater possibility.  Look at the urban record. The last hundred years has seen endless experimentation with urban form and people’s lives – almost always low […]

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Life by a thousand connections

Background The everyday actions of architects and urban planners influence the everyday physical activity of people by creating the networks of streets and public spaces through which people move. Similarly, inside buildings, the layout of space influences the degree to which people move around. The precise mechanisms through which spatial patterns influence behaviour patterns are […]

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Quality Streetscapes Conference notes

My slides This first part of this presentation introduces a new approach to valuing urban design – one which allows design decisions to be embedded in real estate valuation calculations. The approach connects design to the rateable value of retail, commercial and residential property offerings. It allows investment decisions to be related directly to design […]

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Future Cities_Cities of Transaction

Thinking about the future of cities is not a new challenge. From Christopher Wren’s plan for the post-fire rebuilding of London in 1666 to Ebenezer Howards’s Garden City concept, to Le Corbusier, to Bladerunner, human ingenuity has been tasked with anticipating the future. A problem, if we care to admit it, is that these plans […]

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Notes for AGI Conference talk: Measure, map, model, make

My slides Great placemaking is a process combining art and science. There is a place for both and indeed a need for both. Two problems. First, urban planning is largely an analogue discipline. Too many diagrams and watercolours. Not enough science. And, when science is present, it is seen as an adjunct, not as a […]

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