London Policy Conference – don’t turn your back on housing

These notes accompany a PowerPoint presentation.

Good morning.

1. Connectivity is an issue that has come up several times already at this London Policy Conference.

As an architect and town planner, my interest is in the influence of physical connectivity on the behaviour patterns of Londoners. Was connectivity a factor in the London Riots?

London’s street network, illustrated above me, is a connectivity matrix. It is the principal organiser of the movement patterns of pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers, car drivers and even – if I had time to show you – tube and rail travellers.

These connections provide the routes by which we get to work, go to the shops or navigate our way to see a friend.

London’s street network is a piece of infrastructure. Indeed it is London’s largest piece of infrastructure. I believe it needs investment and management just like any other piece of infrastucture, not least because it is in this network that London’s values are created; it is where Londoners transact their lives, both socially and economically. Read More

This town is big enough for the both of us

Independent newspaper, UK

I am standing at the junction of two of the busiest streets in central London – High Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue. In one direction is Centre Point and the start of Oxford Street; in another Leicester Square; to the south-east is Covent Garden; behind me is Bloomsbury and the giant hulk of the British Museum. It’s quite a vista. But my view only lasts for eight seconds before the little green man turns red and a herd of black cabs rev their engines.

Pointing down the streets and cursing the crossing barriers that pen in tourists and office workers is Tim Stonor, managing director of Space Syntax, a UCL-affiliated consultancy whose job it is to understand how humans move within spaces like these. They have analysed people flow within the British Museum and helped Norman Foster redesign Trafalgar Square.

London is – when compared to car-heavy cities such as Los Angeles – quite easy to navigate on foot. But all too often roads are designed for cars – pedestrians are plodding afterthoughts.

Read the article 



Approaching large scale urban design schemes

On Friday I gave a presentation at a Design Council CABE event, “Inside Design Review”. My talk, “Approaching large scale urban design schemes“, sets out a framework for thinking about the complexity of major urban development proposals.

Article 25 “On London Wall”

Article 25 is a charity that designs, builds, and manages projects to provide better shelter wherever there is disaster, poverty, or need. Its latest event “10 X 10” is an auction of 100 architects’ drawings of the City of London.

My drawing “On London Wall” is an attempt to capture the kinetic character of everyday human activity.

Spatial accessibility in London

Two areas of central London (Camden top and Whitechapel bottom), showing the spatial accessibility of the vehicle network from high (red then orange) to low (green then blue).

IBM Smart Cities, Helsinki – latest notes

9.50 Keynote

What will the future city look like?
The city of transaction

How to plan a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable city
The effects of the digital revolution on human behaviour patterns

Tim Stonor, Architect & Urban Planner, Managing Director, Space Syntax (UK)

Data is not the solution.
Turning data into knowledge is a beginning.
Turning knowledge into wisdom is the next step.
Turning wisdom into action is the key.

All of this requires theory.

Here is a theory of the city.
It begins with a description of the city as a geometrical configuration.
Of land uses and linkages.

Addressing the question that planners ask. That politician ask and demand of planners. That property developers make and lose money on.

What goes where and how is it connected together?
Read More

EPSRC Innovate 11: Working with universities

London, 11th October 2011

Tim Stonor
Opportunities & barriers

Space Syntax Limited an SME working in the Creative Industries, specifically architecture and urban planning. A consulting company.

Engaging in projects from high value real estate developments in the City of London to the regeneration of slum settlements. Outside urban space & inside building space. Dealing with issues of movement & interaction and how these influence value: social, economic & environmental.

Specifically, engaging with the EPSRC in its key knowledge domains of:
Global uncertainties
Climate change
Read More

IBM Smart Cities, Helsinki

19th October 2011

Tim Stonor
“What will the future city look like?”

View the presentation

Themes to be addressed
1. How to plan a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable city.

2. Effects of the digital revolution on human behaviour patterns.

In addressing the question, “What will the future city look like?” I am less concerned about the visual appearance of individual buildings and more concerned about how the city is planned as a layout of streets, spaces and land uses.

Why? Because the spatial layout of a town or city organises the movement and interaction of people. Movement and interaction lead to social and economic transaction. These are the building blocks of society, of culture and therefore of being human.
Read More

Alasdair Turner

“Dear All – I have just heard that Alasdair Turner passed away last night after a long struggle with stomach cancer. The end was peaceful in the company of his wife Ozlem. He leaves Ozlem and daughter Zara and our thoughts are with them both.”

Alan Penn
Dean of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London

“We all knew this was about to happen, but it is very much a shock to all of us, and it will take some time to recover. Alasdair was so central to the intellectual future of the space group, it’s hard to  see how he can be replaced. He was one of the few people in his generation who covered the whole field, from the philosophy through the maths to computation. In the last few years, I worked particularly closely – though informally – with him, and he was always my sounding board for new ideas. He really is a great intellectual as well as personal loss to us all.”

Bill Hillier
Professor of Architectural and Urban Morphology, University College London

ITC Discussion Evening 5th October 6:15pm

On behalf of the Independent Transport Commission I am writing to invite you to our Autumn Discussion Evening on 5th October 2011, hosted at the Alan Baxter Gallery in Farringdon, London. Your details were passed to me by John Worthington, one of our Commissioners, who believed you might be interested. We will be debating the consequences of High Speed Rail for our cities and regional infrastructure, and the evening will be an opportunity for experts to address these critical issues in a sociable setting. Our expert panel will be chaired by Nigel Hugill, Chairman of the Centre for Cities, and guest speakers will include the acclaimed urbanist Professor Sir Peter Hall, Dr Henry Overman of the LSE, and Jonathan Bray from the Passenger Transport Executive Group.

As you are aware, the British Government has recently announced plans to launch a High Speed rail network linking London and Northern England, at an estimated total cost of £34 billion. Much debate has focused on the costs of the scheme, and yet these new links connecting our cities also invite a raft of new questions regarding Britain’s urban infrastructure. Will High Speed Rail create a new Mega-City Region extending from Manchester to London? To what extent will these links enhance London’s economic dominance? And what of those regions and cities bypassed by High Speed Rail – how will their connectivity and growth be affected? We will cover all these questions and invite you to join us and share your ideas.

The evening will begin with drinks at 6:15 for a 6:30pm start. Following the discussion you are invited to stay for a complimentary buffet supper and wine from 8:15pm to 9:00pm. Please see the attached invitation and map for further details, and RSVP by 26th September to me at

We would be delighted if you were able to join us to explore this important debate.

kind regards

Matthew Niblett

Dr Matthew Niblett
Independent Transport Commission
Keble College, Oxford, OX1 3PG

London’s riots – can architecture cause social malaise?

My company, Space Syntax Limited, has released the first findings of a study into the 2011 London Riots. Described by Polly Curtis in The Guardian as “the most concrete evidence I think there is linking the summer’s riots to estates” the research suggests a connection between the design of large, post-war housing estates, the patterns of peer socialisation that occur among young people within them and the anti-social behaviour that took place during the summer.

Building on earlier work by Space Syntax founder and UCL Professor Bill Hillier, the study has analysed the locations of riot incidents, the residential addresses of convicted offenders and the spatial layout of London’s street network.

Click here to access a summary report of the Space Syntax research into the London Riots.

For further information, please contact Susannah Williams, Studio Manager at Space Syntax:
020 7400 1320

create space : create value

Teaching urbanism – it should start at school

OK, the big idea would be to teach urbanism to school kids, not only to replace Home Economics (ie lifestyle education) but as a pedagogical umbrella under which the established curriculum of maths, history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology (the classics)…can shelter. Reinvigorate learning. Prepare students for the change that’s coming.

So, we would have the mathematics of urban movement/property value; the history of settlement growth, including the modern history of divisive transport planning/the history of the slum; the geography of population change/urban agriculture/energy generation; the physics of land use attraction; the chemistry of the atmosphere/composting…

First thoughts. Am sure there’s more.

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