Architecture & urban planning
We design places that work for people and enhance the environments around them, from individual buildings to entirely new cities. Our use of data and predictive computing sets us apart in a field that too often relies on guesswork.
We deliver expert planning and design advice at all stages of development, from investment appraisal to operational performance. Our focus on people and place helps inform design strategies. The evidence we produce supports planning processes and influences decision-takers.
We train individuals and organisations in the use of our science-based and human-focused approach through face-to-face classroom teaching as well as the Space Syntax Online Training Platform, an open access learning environment.
We investigate the questions raised by practice as part of a process of continuous service improvement. We undertake extensive in-house research, we partner with likeminded organisations and we act as industrial sponsors of independent, academic activities.
We write algorithms and create software-based tools to analyse the performance of buildings and urban places. We connect Big Datasets and train Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand and simulate effective new environments. Using three decades of international project-based experience, we shape the planning and design tools of the future.
“I know that these techniques work from the tough environment of practice. I love the world of analysis, observation, of research, but also passion, imprecision, the hunch. Space Syntax is the testing of the interaction of these opposing worlds.”
Working with public, private and community organisations, we apply a range of science-based, digital modelling tools to the process of architectural design and urban planning, taking a principled, human-focused approach. From strategic spatial models that provide a rapid, robust picture of mobility and location hierarchy, to micro-simulations and Integrated Urban Models that use AI techniques to explore social, economic and environmental datasets, our objective is always the creation of thriving life in buildings and urban places. In doing so, we help people see, in clear and straightforward terms, how space can be designed to optimise its human performance.
Through a historic programme of internal research and an international network of university collaborations, we continuously develop our digital technologies and design methods. This process of incremental improvement is peer reviewed, published and presented at significant academic events. We have found that the live-testing of new ideas is an accelerator of innovation.
In parallel with project-based applications, we disseminate the Space Syntax Approach through multiple free and paid-for channels. We provide training that is tailored to client needs, ranging from short CPD sessions to multi-year programmes. These courses are supported by the Online Training Platform, a free-to-use resource that acts as the instruction manual for the Space Syntax Toolkit, our open source software suite. We also make spatial modelling datasets available, on a fee-based and open basis, the latter including the OpenMapping model of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Our goal is to embed the Space Syntax Approach in urban planning and design practice.
Our science-based, human-focused approach unites what professional disciplines often divide. We lead or support multi-disciplinary teams, acting as a bridge between economics, planning, architecture, transport, landscape, engineering, stakeholder engagement, heritage and other disciplines. Space Syntax is expert, independent and widely respected for the support we provide to public, private and community-based decision takers. Our work is supported by internationally significant academic research.
Our core values
To enhance the social, economic and environmental performance of building and urban places by applying, developing and disseminating a unique, science-based and human-focused approach to their planning, design and operation.
A built environment in which life thrives. This requires the right balance of connectivity, movement, awareness, encounter and exchange at every scale of place making.
To provide knowledge, leadership, tools and support to all involved in the creation of buildings and urban places.
“A natural solution made commercially obvious.” Simon Harris Simon Harris & Co.
Experience & expertise
Global practice: staff profiles & office location information
Why space matters
The spatial layouts of buildings and urban places exert a powerful influence on human behaviour. The way that people move, interact and transact is directly influenced by how they connect as networks of space. Space Syntax provides a science-based and human-focused approach that shows how.
Space connects or segregates; brings people into social and economic relationships or keeps them apart; helps people save time or consigns them to carbon-intensive lifestyles; enhances real estate value or damages investments; increases safety or encourages criminal behaviour. Well designed spatial layouts produce safe and vibrant places and, in doing so, create enormous levels of social, economic and environmental capital. Poor layouts risk functional failure, loss of investment and social harm. The urban landscape is littered with failed development, much of it caused by misunderstanding how spatial layout affects human performance.
Space Syntax provides a trusted, evidence-based approach to the analysis and design of spatial layout and land use patterns. We help people to see, in clear and straightforward terms, how buildings and urban places can be designed to optimise their functional performance.
Our unique contribution to the field of urban planning and design is in the identification of fundamental links between spatial layout land use attraction and the social, economic and environmental performance of places. Space Syntax research has made five key discoveries that demonstrate how spatial layout directly affects:
movement – such that Space Syntax models can be used as strategic traffic modelling tools for vehicle, pedestrian and cycling movement
land use – showing how land use performance is deeply influenced by spatial location
safety – allowing risk to be identified and safer places to be created
land value – demonstrating the influence of spatial networks on property economics
carbon emissions – highlighting the contribution of spatial planning and design to environmental impact.
Space Syntax works to de-risk property investment decisions, showing how the spatial layout of places can be optimised to enhance the social, economic and environmental value of developments.
Using a highly graphic, data-rich and audience-engaging set of techniques, we help our clients achieve powerful results quickly.
Looking for academic content?
software downloads, online training, academic research, symposia & publications
How we add value
Space Syntax adds value to projects in three key ways:
1. Revealing unseen opportunities and creating better ideas
This is the key strength of the Space Syntax approach. Our reputation is based on a highly creative use of technology to identify the essential design features of urban and building design projects. These are typically aspects of the location, linkage, layout, land use and landscaping of projects that influence human activity and, in doing so, drive the social, economic and environmental performance of places. By carefully recording and systematically analysing how buildings and urban places work we generate insights that unlock problems and inspire designs.
2. Measuring and improving the likelihood of success
The Space Syntax approach is built on a set of science-based methods that forecast whether proposed policies, strategies, plans, and designs will work to create the social, economic and environmental benefits that they are expected to. We give stakeholders and decision-makers reassurance when a design is developing in a favourable way, or we alert them when it is in danger of going off track and they need to act. In the latter case, our approach helps to reduce or mitigate the risk of functional failure. In every case, the Space Syntax approach aims to boost ‘returns’ of many sorts: land value, rental income from, for example, enhanced footfall in retail areas, safety in streets and buildings, and increased interaction between people in buildings. Our evidence-based approach quantifies key performance characteristics of buildings and urban places. Our methods forecast future outcomes, allowing planning and design strategies to be optimised towards desired goals.
3. Facilitating communication on project teams and with stakeholders
We speak a common language of spatial planning and human performance design that bridges across disciplinary boundaries. We translate the objectives of planners, designers, transport engineers, economists, developers, investors and members of the public in such a way that they can be understood by all and organised into meaningful, practical frameworks for action.
“The perspective you brought to our campus masterplanning exercise was invaluable. Space Syntax is the best thing we’ve come upon in a long time.” Dean Wolf Executive Vice President of Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver