Spatial configuration of plot systems and urban diversity: empirical support for a differentiation variable in spatial morphology
Paper in proceedings, 2019

The central variables in any urban model are distance and attraction. Space syntax research has contributed to the development of new geometric descriptions and measures of distance that have broken new ground, not least when it comes to capturing pedestrian movement. However, the description and measurement of attractions has not been central to the field.

In this paper we extend measurement of attractions to the variable of differentiation. Earlier empirical studies have shown strong indications that there is a correlation between the degree of land division into plots (parcels) and the diversity of socio-economic content, such as residents and economic activity (Marcus et al., 2017; Cantarino & Netto, 2017). Building on this, we present results from an extensive empirical study of Stockholm, in the aim to pave the way towards a spatial variable of differentiation in spatial morphology, with direct impact on socio- economic diversity. The investigation concerns a correlation analysis between, on the one hand, measures of the configuration of plot systems, and on the other hand, categories of economic activity, measured using Simpson Diversity Index.

Special attention has been payed to the demands in studies of this kind for close scrutiny of, on the one hand, the definition of the urban scale the study concerns, and on the other hand, the categorisation of economic activity related to this. Diversity in economic activity can be found at different urban scales. For instance, on the district level, the retail category ‘clothes’ may be part of creating diversity together with ‘food’ and ‘computers’, while on the street level, we may find retail related only to ‘clothes’, implying no diversity. In addition, on the city level, areas that have variety of basic services (retail, public and cultural facilities), but homogeneous in terms of retail categories, can be also considered as generally diverse.
Hence, the question ‘diversity of what’ and ‘diversity on what urban scale’, and sensitive categorisations in accordance with this, are central issues, for this study.

The twofold aim of the paper includes first, presenting an overview of complex issues behind diversity concept with the focus on categorisation and scale, and second, empirical studies that support the proposed impact of variable of differentiation on urban diversity.


economic activity

Spatial configuration

plot systems,



Lars Marcus

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Evgeniya Bobkova

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Proceedings of the 12th Space Syntax Symposium


12th Space Syntax Symposium
Beijing, China,

Subject Categories

Economic Geography


Human Geography

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