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Setting up the metropolis: Unpacking the historical spatial cultures of London and Manhattan

Palaiologou, G; Vaughan, L; (2015) Setting up the metropolis: Unpacking the historical spatial cultures of London and Manhattan. In: Karimi, K and Vaughan, L and Sailer, K and Palaiologou, G and Bolton, T, (eds.) Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium. (pp. 55:1-55:18). Space Syntax Laboratory, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 13-17 July 2015, London, UK: London, UK. Green open access


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London and Manhattan constitute unique urban configurations which have claimed and conquered the metropolitan vision. This paper travels back in time to look for the foundations of these cities’ architectural and urban morphology. The study is focused on the architecture of the everyday, the vernacular buildings which collectively form the character of a city’s historical built environment. It discusses how both preconceived frameworks and emergent architectural decisions and societal rules have shaped the two cities throughout their spatial histories. Drawing evidence from historical and empirical data the analysis presented in this paper builds on space syntax research which investigates morphological processes in urban configurations. The paper looks at two contrasting cases of urban grids to contribute to the understanding of the way different spatial arrangements influence city form. The urban past of London and Manhattan is considered in terms of planning intentions, architecture, urban form and the embodied socio-cultural models and ideals. The approach emphasises the way architectural and urban scales were configured together to produce each city’s historical morphological identity and spatial culture. This stems from an effort to form a parallel understanding of both the building unit and the urban realm where this is situated. In this perspective, the discussion provides an overview on the one hand, of the building aggregation rules of the London terraced house and the Manhattan row house schemes; and on the other hand, the structure of the urban grid in each case. The aim is to shed light on the interplay of these two elements, underlining the challenge for any urban design approach: to tackle both buildings and streets along the lines of a unifying and diachronic spatial logic. The study considers the syntactical and morphological properties of urban space, looking at the building, the block and the city scales. The paper aims to highlight that both for London and Manhattan there exist inherent cross-scale organisational consistencies that hold the spatial cultures of each city together.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Setting up the metropolis: Unpacking the historical spatial cultures of London and Manhattan
Event: 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
Location: London, UK
Dates: 13 July 2015 - 17 July 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0-9933429-0-5
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.sss10.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/proceedings/
Language: English
Additional information: This research has been part of a PhD Studentship financially supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: London, Manhattan, spatial culture, urban past, space syntax
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471081
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