Architecture Category

Green space in cities – when more is less

Tim Stonor‘s response to a study published today, which shows that green space in cities improves the mental development of schoolchildren.  I welcome the study: the more we understand cities the better; the Science of Cities – the link between the design of the built environment and the way that we use it – much […]

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The Prince of Wales defines the resilient city #DCR15

3 key features: 1. Embracing local culture, knowledge and customs. Local understanding.  2. Creating places for all types of people to live together – not ghettos. Diversity.  3. Integrating people and nature at the centre of the process: urban gardens, parks, orchards & allotments – while protecting rural hinterland.  http://www.designingcityresilience.com/

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The Urban DataFrame

Context The Urban Data Store is a collection of databases on the social, economic and environmental performance of the city.  The proposal These databases can be organised by an Urban DataFrame. Like threads being organised by a loom. Without the loom they are just threads: disconnected on reels or tangled in a pile. The DataFrame […]

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City resilience – a definition from history

Today’s city planners could learn a lot from ancient history when creating resilient cities, says Tim Stonor, Managing Director of Space Syntax. In his book, De Architectura, the Roman architect Vitruvius asserted that a good building must have three qualities: “firmitas, utilitas, venustas”. In other words, it must “last long, work well and look good”. […]

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Pedestrian movement – the forgotten transport mode

In the field of traffic planning, pedestrian movement is often the forgotten transport mode. But the reality is that pedestrians are the most important mode – because it is when we are pedestrians that we are closest to the places where we make money and spend money; when we are most healthy and, above all, […]

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The two types of Smart City technology

There are two kinds of #SmartCity technology. “Smart at” and “Smart from”. Which is yours? Smart at Here’s our technology. We developed it for another purpose (often agriculture or aerospace). We’re not sure if it really works in cities but we hear that cities are a big market and we’re prepared to have a pop.  […]

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Urban | Auckland ideas 

Inspired by Richard Saul Wurman’s presentation at the NZPI Annual Conference 2015 & discussion afterwards.  Scales  Local places are made by virtue of their place in a wider setting. Squares: it’s not the local design that makes the difference, it’s the connectivity with the wider city that matters.  Patterns – common language Space Syntax focuses […]

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Creating a cultural database

  Sir Tipene O’Regan Māori indigenous local and world views  Notes on the creation of a cultural database using digital technology, presented at the NZPI Annual Conference 2015.  “Culture needs to be cultivated.” “We must remember to remember.” “People who have no memory have no future.” Cultural mapping – “Stories of death, lust, more lust & […]

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Attracting new industry to cities – acting beyond the obvious

I was at a meeting in London yesterday with visiting Chinese national policymakers and was asked what was needed to attract a new industry to a city.  This is an important question not only in China but in any country where cities are trying to encourage new business growth. In answer I suggested that there […]

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What did the Romans ever do for us? Pompei’s 5 lessons for placemaking…

Download the presentation In looking forwards it is important to learn the lessons of history. Look at Pompei. A city built for efficient mobility.  A model of the 1st century with lessons for the 21st century.  The grid – no cul de sacs. Built for mobility. Built for commerce.  More or less rectilinear – not labyrinthine. […]

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Bill Hillier’s Smart London

Notes of Bill Hilliers opening talk about the NLA Smarter London exhibition, 8th October 2014. Congratulations to the NLA and CASA for the exhibition. It’s evidence that London is the original smart city – nowhere such a collection of top class practices, imaginative authorities and academic departments developing new ways of doing things, and new […]

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Building a Smart City modelling team

. Cities planning their future are increasingly turning to the production of Integrated Urban Models. These are tools that bring together various datasets on different asoects of urban performance, from the behaviour of people to the flows of energy, water and other utilities. The aim is to better predict the future of cities by better understanding […]

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From cities of movement to places of transaction

Summary of Tim Stonor’s talk at the World Cities Summit, Singapore, 3rd June 2014 From cities of movement to places of transaction – a new mobility focus for city leaders, planners and everyday users Key responsibilities for cities 1. Imagining the future of cities and mobility. 2. Designing integrated, people-focused planning to sustain cities. 3. […]

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RIBA thinkpiece launched: “A SMART approach to digital planning & design”

The RIBA today launched a set of think-pieces on Digital planning: ideas to make it happen.

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What exactly is human scale?

Darwin City Centre Masterplan, Space Syntax For too long, architects and urban planners have pursued the myth that human scale means “local” scale. In doing so, they have downscaled space, thinking that by fragmenting and disconnecting towns and cities into small enclaves they would be creating “community”. They were wrong. Isolated and disconnected, people on inner -city […]

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Space Syntax: the push of intent, the pull of need and the resistance of the “pre-digital”

I was asked an interesting question yesterday about the barriers to growth and acceptance of Space Syntax and Integrated Urban Models. I believe there are three important components to the answer. First, the growth of Space Syntax Limited‘s business was robust for 19 years, following its startup as a UCL spinoff company in 1989 – until […]

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Spatial Planning and the Future of Cities

How might cities be planned in the future? This is not only a question of how they might look but also, and more importantly, about how they might be laid out as patterns of buildings and spatial connections. Laying out a city means answering two key questions: “what goes where?” and the “how does it all connect together?” […]

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Smart City Planning & Design Principles

Smart Cities are smart in two ways. First, they harness technologies to improve the way that urban places are led and managed. Second, they create better outcomes for the people that use them. This two-pronged approach applies to all aspects of Smart Cities. When it comes to the planning and design of Smart Cities, technology […]

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UrbanRural: one system, many tensions

Notes from a meeting with the Beijing Institute of Agriculture and Forestry at Space Syntax London, 18th September 2013. Common themes Production The rural landscape is a place of production. So is the city: production of goods and production of ideas. Protection Protection of natural assets in the rural landscape. Protection of historic buildings in […]

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