Creating Urban Place: Re-thinking the Value of Residential and Commercial Use in Urban Street Networks

By Laura Narvaez, Alan Penn and Sam Griffiths.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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This paper draws on the findings of an on-going research project into the relationship between spatial networks and socio-economic activities in urban environments. It makes particular reference to spatial morphology, advancing a fresh perspective on a range of economic factors by showing how they can be translated into the ‘qualitative’ values of urban design. The research methodology combines Space Syntax analysis with socio-economic data from two different types of property market: the domestic (residential) and the non-domestic (commercial). Using the Welsh city of Cardiff, UK as a case study, the analysis demonstrates how the spatial configuration of Cardiff’s street network relates to residential property values, identifying spatial patterns according to house prices and tax band values. Furthermore, it is shown how the non-domestic property market can be examined in relation to its network-accessibility in order to explain how different distributions of land-use value emerge over time. In summary, the paper advocates an approach to urban design practice informed by an awareness of how spatial morphology affects economic value and the social qualities of place.

Keywords: Morphology, Economics, Urban Design, Space Syntax

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.149-168. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 16.996MB).

Laura Narvaez

PhD Candidate, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, London, UK

Laura Narvaez is a PhD candidate at University College London, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies. Her research is on the topic of space and social interactions within architecture and the built environment, with a focus on how different socio-economic properties engage in the spatial layout, measuring and valuing accessibility as the central background of the research. Her interests are on topics of urban design studies, landscape architecture, spatial economics, and Space Syntax. Laura is an architect with distinction (summa cum laude) at Monterrey Tech (ITESM). She received a MSc in Urban Landscape in Monterrey, Mexico at Monterrey Tech (ITESM); a MSc in Advanced Architectural Studies with distinction at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, UCL. She has worked on accessibility and urban studies for the past 5 years doing research as well as developing urban projects in the city of Monterrey, N.L. Mexico.

Prof. Alan Penn

Dean, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, London, UK

Alan is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment, a HEFCE Business Fellow and a founding director of Space Syntax Ltd, a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city master plans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He is a member of the Space Group, an EPSRC Platform funded research group. He was the lead academic on the £5m Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities knowledge exchange programme which promoted more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK. He was Principal Investigator on the City History and Multi-scale Spatial Master-planning UK-China Research Network, funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. His research focuses on understanding the way that the design of the built environment affects the patterns of social and economic behaviour of organisations and communities. Current research includes the development of agent based simulations of human behaviour, the development of spatio-temporal representations of built environments, investigations of urban spatial networks and the application of these techniques in studies of urban sustainability in the broadest sense, covering social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions.

Dr. Sam Griffiths

Dr., Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, London, UK

Sam is a member of The EPSRC Platform and industry funded Space Research Group at UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies. His research addresses questions of ‘historical space’ from an architectural perspective. He is particularly interested in the spatial cultures of industrial cities and the effect on the routine and ritual patterns of everyday life of historical change and continuity in the built environment. Sam also has a research interest in suburban environments and has worked as a researcher and currently, as a Co-Investigator on two EPSRC sponsored projects into the relationship of morphology and social sustainability in the suburbs. In both projects his concern has been to address the suburbs as distinctive, heterogeneous and historical environments, and to critique approaches grounded on conventional cultural representations. Since 2009 Sam has been Course Director of the MSc Advanced Architectural Studies programme. He currently leads the modules: Design as a Knowledge-Based Process and Spatial Cultures.