The syntactical image of the city:a reciprocal definition of spatial elements and spatial syntaxes

Ruth Dalton, Sonit Bafna

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper presents a study of the relationship between city elements, as defined by Lynch, and the spatial descriptors commonly used in space syntax research, leadingto a proposed relationship between the hitherto unrelated concepts of intelligibilityand imageability. The paper starts by demonstrating how each of Lynch's five cityelements (the node, path, district, edge and landmark) may be redefined using aselection of spatial notations, primarily the axial line and the isovist. Furthermore,by precisely defining the relationship between the axial line and the isovist, it can beshown that all of Lynch?s elements may be redefined using a single, coherent familyof tightly-related spatial entities. A case study of Boston, circa 1950, is used to testan application of these redefinitions and the relationships between the various spatialdescriptors and Lynch's elements. In turn, this leads to a hypothesis concerning therelationship between the concepts of intelligibility and imageabilty, concepts thatwere previously considered to be independent. Finally, the paper concludes bybuilding upon the relationship between intelligibility and imageabilty to concludethat this relationship provides strong evidence for an underlying cognitive basis tospace syntax.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003
Event4th International Space Syntax Symposium - London
Duration: 1 Jun 2003 → …


Conference4th International Space Syntax Symposium
Period1/06/03 → …


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