Schools at ‘Front Row’: Public buildings in relation to societal presence and social exclusion
Paper in proceeding, 2019

In analyses of affordances and opportunities in different neighbourhoods it is found that access to public buildings and a well-functioning public space are of outmost importance. This is found to be especially important in neighbourhoods having a population with fewer resources, areas often discussed in terms as ‘deprived’ or ‘excluded’, concepts that alludes to the phenomenon of segregation. Presence or visibility of key facilities manifest power situations and relations, and, may be seen as symbols of society at large and even extensions of society affecting tendencies of social exclusion and inclusion. It is argued that amenities, and what they represent, materialized through architecture, are important not only for those who use these facilities but also for others. These institutions are in a low-intense way continuously reminding of the larger society and signal coherence with such larger community.

In this study we investigate how the location of schools performs as a result of spatial location in combination with spatial configuration, creating different degrees of accessibility and presence locally. More specifically, we investigate to what extent institutions for education are located centrally in the area, visible for both locals and non-locals, and to what extent they are situated at ‘front row seat’ from a configurative perspective. We draw from ideas discussed by Hillier (2009), Vaughan (2013), Legeby et al. (2015), and Peponis (2017).

First, the most central paths and spaces are identified in the studied district, establishing the integration core. Then, the location of schools are analysed in relation to this. Apart from establishing the most central paths and how this structure relates to the schools, we add information of the size and content of the catchment area of each school, including distance between residential buildings and schools. This allows for a detailed mapping of variations in access to schools within the neighbourhood, and establish presence or absence of these institutions in the neighbourhood, argued to have implications both for pupils (and their families), as well as for others. Finally, income levels are superimposed to reveal to what extent there is diversity of different socio-economic groups within each specific catchment area.

The results show that there are two different logics at work in the district of Gottsunda, having different social implications; preschools tend to be more deeply located in the structure, having more limited catchment areas but a strong relation to housing units, while compulsory schools are located in proximity of the integration core and thus more present in the neighbourhood at large. Moreover, the location of the schools in combination with the configurative properties is found to reproduce residential segregation patterns rather than creating interfaces between social groups. We argue that urban design and architecture could be more efficiently used when trying to create more equal living conditions and address social exclusion if we have higher awareness of the social implications of what is located at ‘front row seat’ in a neighbourhood.

presence of society

spatial configuration

continuous city

equal living conditions

social exclusion


Ann Legeby

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Daniel Koch

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Pablo Miranda Carranza

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Proceedings of the 12th Space Syntax Symposium

287-2:1-287-2:19 287-2

12th International Space Syntax Symposium
Beijing, China,

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories


Human Geography

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