Building planning & design
Case Studies

Royal Academy of Arts


Project Director
Tim Stonor

Hopkins Architects

Royal Academy of Arts

Spatial accessibility

Improving visitor access


Space Syntax was commissioned by the Royal Academy of Arts to assist Hopkins Architects in developing and evaluating design proposals to connect Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy, to Burlington Gardens, the former Museum of Mankind. The principal aim of our work was to anticipate the impact of the proposals on visitor access and circulation patterns.

Museums and art gallery buildings act socially and culturally to create and control the interface between visitors, staff and collections. The design of their spatial layout has a significant effect on how people find their way around and come into contact with each other and with the collections. The success of an art gallery or museum depends to a significant degree on the ‘social atmosphere’ of the building. This in turn depends on how the building encourages convenient wayfinding and informal browsing among visitors.


spatial accessibility analysis
observation study of current visitor activity patterns
option testing to generate and evaluate design proposals
design advice on ways to improve access and circulation.

Findings and outcome

Our objective was to create an easy to understand and navigate layout by optimising visual connections between the main entrance, vertical circulation and other levels of the museum.

Visibility diagram section