Where are we going? Not a new question

Tomorrow’s Loeb Fellowship presentation will begin with this painting by Paul Gauguin: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” painted on Tahiti in 1897.

The title provides a helpful triplet to structure a fundamental career review, which is essentially what tomorrow’s presentation is about. Read More

Put the client into the brief

Perhaps the greatest difference between architecture school and design practice is the reality in practice of the client, the client’s other advisors, the opponents to the project, the commentators in the press – in other words the human factor. Read More

Architecture: beyond art & science

Is architecture and art or a science? As Bill Hillier has argued, this is the wrong question. In fact it’s a silly question. Architecture is both art and science. He argues that architecture is total art and total science. In fact it’s more, because architecture engages with the everyday and the everyday is social, environmental and economic too. Read More

The several pleasures of building a bed

Spending the afternoon building a bed is an opportunity not only for construction but also for reflection. Or even rebuilding a bed – because what was there at the end was mostly already there to begin with. However, as with a recipe, the same ingredients can create a variety of outcomes. Flour, water and a few extras can make a Victoria Sponge or a thick glue – each has its usefulness; it’s a question of what is intended. Read More

Space Syntax Limited’s 20th Birthday Party

On 2nd July 2009, Space Syntax Limited held a party to celebrate its 20th birthday. The party took place around the Main Quad at University College London.

The evening began in the Slade School of Art with a special viewing of the Bartlett Summer Show before continuing on the Portico with a welcome from guest of honour, Sir Stuart Lipton.

For Tim Stonor’s words of welcome, click here.




For Sir Stuart Lipton’s speech, click here.









Guest list
Alexander, James
Event Communications

Altunisi, Ziad
Al Faisaliah Medical Systems

Asaf, Iris

Anderson, Nick
Faber Maunsell

Antonakaki, Dora

Azhar, Azhar
AZHAR Architects

Bahaj, AbuBakr
University of Southampton

Bakker, Ron
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Bakr, Al-Mashhadani
Al Faisaliah Medical Systems

Baillieu, Amanda
Building Design Magazine

Beck, Helen

Bell, Chris
The FD Centre

Benedetti, Renato

Bennett, Neil

Berhamovic, Aida

Bidgood, Mark

Blackwell, Richard
Blackwell Architects

Blake, Nick
YRM Architects

Bobisse, Riccardo

Bogle, Ian

Briggs, Guy

Brown, Patricia
Central London Partnership

Brown, Robin
Hayes Community Development

Buchanan, Peter
Peter Buchanan

Budgen, Andrew

Caldwell, Ian
Kings College London

Canadine, Steve

Caust, Margaret
London Development Agency

Chan, Melisa

Chapman, Tim

Charlton, Giles

Chen Helen
Planning Office Hackney

Chiu, Lai Fong
Leeds University

Cobb, David

Cole, Allison
The American International University in London

Conner, Richard
Piercy Conner Architects

Cook, Charlotte
City of London

Cowan, Rob
Urban Design Group

Crappsley, Richard
Colin Buchanan

Cromme, Susanne

Croxford, Ben
University College London

Damati, Ali
AL Systems Medical Faisaliah

Daridsan, Alan
Mayes Daridsan

Davis, Michael
The Company Promenade Thames

de Jongh, Phil

Deda, Luan
‘Scott Brownrigg

Deffenbaugh, John

Diamond, Ros
Diamond Architects

Duffy, Jim
HKR Architects

Dye, Anne

Dyke, John

East, John

Edwards, Michael

Fatah gen. Schieck, Ava

Fenne, Richard
Magyar Marsoni Architects

Foreman, Lucy

Freeman, Edward

Fursdon, Andrew
Scott Tallon Walker Architects

Gaskin, Alastair
Reagh Consulting Company

Gilbert, Daniel

Glaessl, Daniel
Gumuchdjian Architects

Gledstone, Linda
Academy of Urbanism

Grant, Ian

Greene, Margarita
University Chile

Gunn, Ken
FSP Retail Business Consultants

Hagiladi, Na’amah

Haklay, Muki

Hardy, Matthew

Harris, Richard
Living PlanIT

Hart, Julian

Hawkes, Victoria
Steer Davies Gleave

Hayward, Richard
Greenwich University

Heath Peter

Herzenshtein, Irit
Longboat Tax Advisors

Honeysett, Nathalie

Honeysett, Sophie
Hastings Council

Inglis, Peter
Edward Cullinan Architects

Ivattt, Martin

Jefferies, William
Square & Partners

Jenkins, Andrew

John, Philip

Kalkhowen, Paul
Foster + Partners

Karski, Andy

Keltie, Leanne
David Lock Associates

Kendall, Jonathan
Fletcher Priest Architects

Khazaka, Lita
The Prince’s Foundation

Kochan Ben

Krikler, Felicie
Assael Architecture

Lee, William

Lesser, Benjamin

Lewis, Michael
Child Graddon Lewis

Li, Annie
Design for London

Loew, Sebastian
Urban Design Group

Lopez de Vallejo, Irene

Lorch, Richard
Building Research & Information

Low, Fergus
More London

Lowe, Robert

Lucas, Joanna
Inspace Homes Limited

Marmot, Alexi

Mattes, Holger
David Chipperfield Architects

Mattin, Alberta

Maughan, Ally

Maynard, Julian
Duo Consultants

McAdam, Steve

McCart, Mike
South Bank Centre

McGeough, Kevin
Homes & Communities Agency

McGowan, John
Turner & Townsend

McGrogan, Pat
Department of Environment

McKeogh, Nick

McNally, Joy
Great Ormond Street Hospital

McNally, Andrew
Daimler Benz

Meeda, Bally
Urban Graphics

Mellon, Alastair
‘Providence Developments

Michael, Edwards

Miranda, Pablo
Aedas Architects

Monaghan, Niall

Morgan, Dominic

Morrison, Robert
Morrison Brink Stonor

Morrison, Franceska
Thames Promenade Company

Mowle, Lee
Steer Davies Gleave

Moynihan, Dennis
Institute for Sustainability

Murrain, Paul

Musgrave, Lucy
General Public Agency

Nanda, Vivek
Alan Baxter & Associates

Newman, Kate
This Is Not A Gateway

Nicholson, Robin
Edward Cullinan Architects

Norton, Christina

Oades, Mike

Oreszczyn, Tadj

Osborne, James

Parham, Susan
Council for European Urbanism

Patel, Nilesh
LDA Design

Paul, Ben

Pegg, John

Phillips, Katy
City of London

Porter, Niel
Gustafson Porter

Polychronakis, Ioannis
Halcrow Group

Prevc, John

Priest, Keith
Fletcher Priest Architects

Protheroe, Guy
Whitelaw Turkington

Psarra, Sophia
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Ralph, Ian
Urban Initiatives

Reed, Martin

Redway Kathryn
Kathryn Redway Associates

Reitman, Alexandra
Greater London Authority

Renak, Leigh
YBP Consultants

Reynolds, Paul

Rice, Colin
Edward Cullinan Architects

Roberts, Hugh
Colin Buchanan

Robinson, Stuart
CB Richard Ellis Ltd

Rose, Alasdair

Rosenberg, David

Rowland, Jon

Rubinson, Mark
ABG Group

Ruud, Chris
University of Nottingham

Rushton, John
Small Back Room

Sailer, Kerstin

Sandler, Sebastian
Xul Architecture

Schaefer, Markus
Hosoya Schaefer Architects

Scott, Ian

Short, Ian
London Thames Gateway Development Corporation

Sheldon, Andrew
Urban Initiatives

Shrimpton, Hannah
Steer Davies Gleave

Smales, Jonathan
Beyond Green

Smiles, Chris
Marks Barfield Architects

Smith, Steven

Smyth, Austin
University of Westminster

Stallard, Kinna
Atomik Architecture

Starrs, Mel

Steward, Peter
Peter Steward Consultancy

Stonor, Anna
Swale Borough Council

Stonor, Michael
Stonor Europe

Stonor, Nicholas
Trinity Chambers

Stowell, George
George Stowell

Sutton, Vaughan

Thornton, Bron
Walk 21

Tollast, Julian
Quintain Estates and Development

Toogood, Elaine
Elaine Toogood

Tricker, Jonathan
Urban Initiatives

Tschawow, Kati

Turner, Alasdair

Twelftree, Peter
Steer Davies Gleave

van Bruggen, Ben

Vause, Christopher
Maclay, Murray & Spens

Walker, Jim
Walk England

Warwick, Elanor

Watson, Patrik
Buro Four

Wedderburn, Martin

Ween, Camilla
Transport for London

Wernick, Jane
Jane Wernick Associates

Wheeler, Paul
Land Securities Trillium

Whitfied, Debbie

Wojciech, Dziubek
Quixotic Architectrue

Wood, Robert
Duo Consultants

Wood, Matthew
Conran and Partners

Worthington, John

Yao, Jerry
Charles Ming & Associates

Zad, Rogers
KOF media

The crisis of modelling

Dear [colleague]

Are you familiar with the attached. I think there’s a connection with the article on modelling that you sent me. I believe we can present Space Syntax as addressing the “crisis of modelling”, in which:

–    traditional modelling makes dire predictions about the impact on vehicles of public realm-/public transport-oriented projects are unfounded

–    traditional modelling is cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive

–    traditional modelling seems overly focused on narrow issues such as gross vehicle movement and less aware of “real” issues such as community severance and economic performance. Read More

Architecture at the edge of knowledge; space syntax at the heart of design


Let me begin at the end with a summary of my presentation. The space syntax approach is more than a computer programme. The beauty – and I think it is a beauty – of the approach is that it combines three key aspects of practice: the first two have been dealt with in depth by Bill Hillier in his presentation and these are architectural theory and computer technology. The third is design experience. In a wide range of design sectors and across all scales, from individual building layouts to entire cities and city regions, over twenty years of practice have demonstrated that space syntax offers architects, like myself, an edge. Whether we see this as an edge over our fellow architects, an edge over the unsustainable processes that have emerged to stifle communications between architects and non-architects or an edge over the unexpected events that shape everyday life, space syntax provides an edge. Read More

New settlements & urban extensions

The physical and spatial form of a settlement structures the potentials for two key outcomes: social interaction and economic trade. These outcomes are cornerstones of sustainability.

Movement, on foot and in vehicles, is the fundamental process that underpins these outcomes. Patterns of movement are shaped by the geometry of the street network. Patterns of land use are shaped by patterns of movement. Patterns of crime and of land value are similarly affected. These processes are not mysterious but, instead, are well researched and understood. Read More

Spatial modelling for complex masterplans

One of the most significant challenges in modern planning is to deliver new urban development in a resource-effective and energy-efficient way. Considerable efforts have been made to develop energy-saving building materials and technologies, and rightly so. But is this enough?

I believe we can do more by controlling and reducing energy demand not only inside buildings but also between them. This means creating urban environments, as well as urban architecture, that reduce energy consumption. We can see this already happening, for example in forward-thinking governments placing greater emphasis on public transport over private.

There is though a further step that can be taken towards urban sustainability, which is to reduce large-scale, long-distance movement in cities and, in its place, promote local activity and shorter journeys. There are two parts to this. Read More

Searching for a sustainable Britain

In searching for a sustainable Britain, we should not only be looking at what is built in Britain but also at what we, the British, export elsewhere. We need a sustainable British as well as a sustainable Britain. Read More

The architecture of behaviour

I am delighted to have been invited to this important conference on Italian tourism, to share my experience as an architect, working on the design of tourist destinations in the United Kingdom and overseas. I hope to show how this experience might be relevant in planning and designing the relaunch of Italian tourism.  Read More

Divided we stand

The quality of advice provided by planners and architects is as much the product of our education, our professional bodies and our office environments as it is our individual talents. The deep structures of our universities, memberships and working cultures have a profound influence on our personal processes of reasoning and acting. We are what we are fed – in the classroom, at the conference and around the meeting table. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Read More

Frayed at the edge (and at the centre)

At the edges of nearly all the world cities, and often at their centres too, are tracts of unplanned settlements. Labelled as slums, favelas and shanty towns, these are places that have been made largely without the intervention of planning. Their numbers are increasing as the planet moves from the field to the street and as urban populations reproduce. Read More

Hedging on the pedestrian

February and March are traditionally the Spring conference season and have taken me this year on speaking engagements from Millbank (with RUDI) to Earls Court (with the Academy of Urbanism), the Royal College of Physicians (with the Architectural Review) and, ultimately, to the giant property toyshop of MIPIM in Cannes (with CABE). In more or less relaxed surroundings the pre-Spring period has been an opportunity to sit down with peers, discuss current practice and swap notes on future plans. First off the lips of those there was the global credit crisis, with opinions divided. On the one hand there was general concern over the detrimental effects of restricted borrowing on property development. On the other there were a significant number for whom the financial downturn presents opportunities to spend squirreled cash. Read More

Reflective planning

One of the benefits of an international staff is that the office becomes quieter in the run up to Christmas as people leave for home. Since the New Year is an opportunity to take stock and think ahead, the directors took advantage of the lull. We devoted two days to “reflective planning”, a process of simultaneous backwards and forwards looking. We tested past successes and failures against the opportunities and constraints that we believe will shape our business in the years ahead. Read More

Diary planning

Three months ago, this column was written in a lazy chair and hot sun. Today it is the slow-running 0754 to Cannon Street. I am at least comforted by the thought that the week will end at the Academy of Urbanism’s annual awards lunch. With that carrot before me I count 23 separate meetings in the week to come. These include at least three “high pressure” events: a masterplanning workshop tomorrow with people we enjoy working alongside, the regular Wednesday Design Review Panel at CABE and a design meeting with a reasonably famous firm of architects on Thursday. Foodwise it is two dinners with the heads of our firms in Boston and Tokyo and, of course, Friday with the Academy at the Dorchester. All in all: a not unusual week for brain and belly. Read More

Going with the flow

As reported in the Guardian Online on 09 September 2004

Science can be used to design cities according to rational laws, writes Philip Ball.

‘It was built to be a modern, efficient, healthy and, all in all, pleasant place to live. Many Britons find this amusing.” That’s how Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, in their book Good Omens, describe Milton Keynes, a town for which neither heaven nor hell is prepared to take credit.

But even with one of the highest densities of roundabouts in the country, not to mention the notorious concrete cows, there are far worse places to live than Milton Keynes. The ridicule it suffers is more a reflection of our instinctive scepticism about the idea of rationally designing a city.

Ever since the 19th century, urban design has had an uneasy relationship with science. Amid the grimy horrors of the Industrial Revolution, cities became viewed as inherently undesirable.

“Town planning began as an attempt not to understand cities but to replace them with something better,” says Bill Hillier, director of the Space Syntax Laboratory at University College London. Idealists like Robert Owen aimed to create a bucolic-industrial utopia, and paved the way for “balanced urban environments” such as garden cities. Read More

%d bloggers like this: