Multivariable measures of plot systems: describing the potential link between urban diversity and spatial form based on the spatial capacity concept
Paper in proceedings, 2017
Urban diversity is a widely recognized concept used to describe vitality in cities and is often associated with cities that perform successfully both from an economic and social perspective. The concept of urban diversity was introduced to the broader public by Jane Jacobs, later inherited by the New Urbanism movement and has been extensively used in contemporary urban discourse. While theoretical definitions of urban diversity are manifold, measures that allow for a description of a more rigorous kind are less developed (Talen, 2006, 2008). The aim of this paper is to identify fundamental variables of spatial form that could potentially contribute to urban diversity and socio-economic performativity. In particular, the paper investigates the concept of spatial capacity, that is, the impact of plot systems (i.e. land division) on urban diversity (Marcus, 2000, 2010; Sayyar & Marcus, 2013) While the link to urban diversity is presented here as an essential starting point, the aim of this paper is to develop purely morphological measures of plot systems and to test if these measures can identify the difference among particular urban contexts. The study of the direct relation between spatial form and socio-economic performance is beyond the scope of this paper and will be presented in forthcoming studies. The first part of the paper presents a theoretical framework to establish the fundamental morphological parameters of plot systems that can potentially contribute to urban diversity. The second part of the paper describes an empirical study of selected areas in Stockholm, Sweden, where essential morphological aspects of plot systems are explored and measured, using the proposed parameters of the plot systems. Importantly, the plot systems are measured here in geometric terms, capturing size, openness and compactness of plots, and also in configurational terms through accessible number and diversity of plots using the Place Syntax Tool (Ståhle, 2008). The paper is set within the framework of a bigger project aimed at developing and testing sound methodologies for measuring central variables of spatial form: density, diversity and distance (Berghauser Pont et al. 2017; Berghauser Pont & Marcus, 2015; Marcus & Berghauser Pont, 2015).