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The Ghost of Conceived Space – What Kind of Work Does or Should Space Syntax Perform for Architecture

PSARRA, S; (2010) The Ghost of Conceived Space – What Kind of Work Does or Should Space Syntax Perform for Architecture. The Journal of Space Syntax , 1 (1) pp. 17-29. Green open access

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Abstract

The main thrust of space syntax is in defining architecture in spatial rather than conceptual terms bridging through the notion of configuration between abstract and lived space. Configuration defines non-discursive rules we use unconsciously in space as we encounter it in everyday life. While vernacular architecture is based on the unconscious normative rules defining the cultural competence of society (Hillier, 1996), and cities are emergent phenomena of overlapping situated practices (2001), architecture raises non-discursive patterns of space to abstract comparative knowledge (1996). Yet, the theoretical distance of space syntax from conceptual ideas used by architects and theorists not only limits its interaction with the frameworks of thought by which buildings are discussed and designed, but also disguises through the notion of non-discursive rules some of its own assumptions. These assumptions carry implicit notions of 'conceived' space as we conceptualize it through architectural history, theory and practice. If architecture is not solely founded on non-discursive rules, how can we re-consider the relationship between space syntax and architecture? The paper is structured in three parts: The first part reviews ideas about space developed by key architectural theorists and historians. It suggests that architectural discourse defines architecture as a conceived system of formal relations, theoretical ideas, contextual influences and their historical evolution. On the other hand, most of space syntax research approaches architecture mainly as a perceived system of non-discursive relations. The second part examines certain theoretical and analytical concepts in space syntax arguing that they sustain a theoretical division between conceived and perceived space, and the fragmentation of architectural discourse into analytic and discursive theories. The third part argues that the judgment we make that a building is architecture is founded on analytic knowledge of configuration, historical knowledge of spatial forms and theoretical knowledge that is discursive in nature. If space syntax intends to be useful to the study of architecture, it needs to address non-discursive and discursive knowledge within which architecture operates in its pursuit of social ends as well as innovation

Type: Article
Title: The Ghost of Conceived Space – What Kind of Work Does or Should Space Syntax Perform for Architecture
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://joss.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/journal/index.php/j...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: architecture; space syntax; architectural theory; space; form; discursive; non discursive; history and theory; conceived space; perceived space; innovation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1315681
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