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id ddss9453
authors Krafta, Romulo
year 1994
title Urban Configuration, Attraction And Morphology
source Second Design and Decision Support Systems in Architecture & Urban Planning (Vaals, the Netherlands), August 15-19, 1994
summary Spatial Interaction (SI), based on the principle of attraction, has set up a powerful way of looking at the behaviour of urban systems. Within-place activities generate and/or attract trips, due to their inner fragmentary nature; several activities articulate a system of locations and flows which is supposed to be regulated by concentration of those activities and distance between them'. SI has been criticized for having a poor theory and little regard to spatial specifics. In general terms, planners and large-scale urban scientists have been more comfortable with it than designers and urban morphologists, whose questions about space configuration are awkwardly dealt with in such a framework. Recently, Space Syntax (SS) has been suggested as an alternative to describe possible roles of space in the urban system. Its theory looks very complex - a deep cultural, anthropological connection between man and space, an atavistic impulse driving the shaping of space. Teklenburg et al have shown, however, that it is, in fact, very simple and not far from the rude assumptions of SI: a matter of distance and orientation3. Hence, what does look new is just its way of describing orientation, through the axiallity of public space. Axial lines retain the fundamental issue of connectivity; so they describe space more efficiently than the traditional zones or links used in SI models. SI says little about configuration, SS says little about interaction between spaces and activities, and both say nothing about morphology, or the configurational development of urban systems. An alternative approach is suggested: (i) urban spatial configurati-on (urban grid and built form) strongly conditions activity location and flows, in the short term. In this way, a convenient description of such a configuration should denounce its potential to housing activities and generate flows. This required description should take the grid axiallity as a measure of connectivity and orientation, as in SS, as well as the built form as a measure of attraction, as in SI; (ii) activity location and flows strongly conditions urban spatial configuration change, in the long run. Location and flow patterns create values that are expressed by an increasing conflict between rising land values and declining building values. As a result, configuration is taken as a particular state of a morphology whose transformation rules are an economic expression of spatiality. Flows are cause and effect in the lagged process of mutual transformation which shapes the urban space.
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