Spatial Syntax and the Poetic Spatial Link in Architecture and Planning


  • Magdalena Saura Carulla
  • José Muntañola Thornberg
  • Rasoul Ameli Najafabadi
  • Josué Nathan Martínez Gómez
  • Júlia Beltran Borràs
  • Sara Cristina Molarinho Marques


Can Space Syntax uncover the poetic spatial link in architecture and planning? In Lisbon in 2017 we uncover one emergent interest upon the not clear interrelation space syntax configurative structures, the design prefigurative power of architecture and the social science refigurative studies about of the environmental behavior of social human groups or cultures, (Ricoeur, 2003). Following Bill Hillier himself this interrelation is significant from the Space Syntax understanding and for architectural planning analysis (Hillier 2014: 214): «Cities appear to us as patterns of activity related to patterns of space. (...) But theoretically it is not like that, and this is not how cities become as they are. This is why good city form can adapt easily to new patterns of use.» Thus, according to Hillier the physical space is a link both between the type of activity that that takes develops in the urban scenarios, and social co-presence shaped by the physical space itself. This constitutes a key critique to Alexander’s pattern language. The present contribution shows an example in downtown Barcelona of the feedback between prefiguration, configuration and refigurative surveys (Authors). Methodologically, ethnographical surveys in the Raval neighborhood analyzed by Space Syntax tools confirm the need for the horizontal red lines by dwellers. Findings show that the proposal by Clotet, which was partially implemented, disregarded these accessibility links in contrast to the past and present situation. This is a poetic combination of morphological (Space Syntax) and ethnographical simulations linked by design processes.