Det urbanas syntax

Sara Westin

Abstract


”The syntax of urbanity”
Within the social sciences there are frequent discussions about “the urban”. Nevertheless, the concept is seldom given any precise definition. This raises a range of questions. What does “the urban” mean? What is its opposite? And above all: how does “the urban” relate to “the city”? Within the architectural discipline ambitious research on these matters is being done. The theory of space syntax, developed by professor Bill Hillier, brings innovative insights about the relation between the life of the city, on the one hand, and the form of the city, on the other. The aim of this article is therefore to discuss this theory from a social scientific perspective. What are the advantages and problems of Hillier’s operationalization of “the urban”? The article concludes by defining “the urban” as a “thing/not-thing” – a paradoxical definition, which stresses the need of a perpetual shifting of perspective if we are to understand “the urban” as the multidimensional phenomenon it is.

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