Detection of Intelligibility leaps using Isovist-waves: joining the dots to map potential ‘aha moment’locations

Sam McElhinney, Ruth Dalton, Nick S. Dalton, Panagiotis Mavros

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Our paper describes the exploration of and progress towards a new computational method to detect the location of potential ‘aha moments’ during the learning of a novel spatial configuration. ‘Aha moments’ refer to instances of sudden reorientation where the overall understanding of spatial configuration suddenly, and often unexpectedly, increases. We developed a novel computational approach to detect such a phenomenon, by spawning isovists from initial random points within the navigable space, then iteratively seeding new isovist points from the occluding edges of the latest iteration. When new isovists are able to reconnect with previously generated ones, the connection is held to be particularly advantageous (to a navigator) and the new link’s attributes, such as location, are noted. With our method, the spatial configuration is ‘explored’ progressively, simultaneously allowing the detection of changes in integration and intelligibility of the configuration as a whole. We present the outcomes of applying our method to three case-studies; Hillier’s legible world/town, van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, and Hertzberger’s Beheer Centraal Offices. The results show that isovist-derived, potential ‘aha locations’ are systematic, and appear at the intersections between large spatial and informational units. As such, the measure is assumed to have similarities with other, existing space syntax concepts (clustering coefficients, e- and s- spaces, revelation) but is also appears distinct in its focus on pairwise-connections with previously seen locations. We hypothesise that our measure is highly sensitive to locations where people identify shortcuts during spatial exploration or learning. The paper concludes with a discussion of future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 13th International Space Syntax Symposium
EditorsAkkelies van Nes, Remco E. de Koning
Place of PublicationBergen
PublisherWestern Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9788293677673
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022
Event13th International Space Syntax Symposium, SSS 2022 - Bergen, Norway
Duration: 20 Jun 202224 Jun 2022


Conference13th International Space Syntax Symposium, SSS 2022


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