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URBAN SHAPES AND URBAN GRIDS: a comparative study of Adriatic and Ionian coastal cities


Ermal Shpuza School of Architecture, Southern Polytechnic State University


Urban shape Urban grid Urban typology Integration Connectivity Compactness Fragmentation Bias

Ermal Shpuza Southern Polytechnic State University, School of Architecture CET&C, 1100 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta, GA 30060, USA ermal@morphostudio.net


This paper models in a precise quantitative manner the proposition that the properties of urban shapes strongly and significantly affect the syntactic properties of urban grids. Urban shapes are described according to three measures of shape compactness and fragmentation and their skewness of distribution. The analysis of a large sample of coastal cities has shown that urban shapes affect the integration of urban grids according to the underlying principles of grid morphology.


Syntactic research on urban environments has not so far directly addressed the relationship between settlement shape and syntactic properties of street networks. While it is shown that street networks evolve by resolving the paradoxes of centrality and visibility (Hillier 1996), there is little understanding on how the mutual effect of shape compactness, which is related to centrality, and shape convex fragmentation, which is related to visibility, affects the configurational properties of street networks. Urban grids have been considered as independent systems with their own internalized global logic tied to patterns of connectivities between streets (Hillier 1996, Hillier 1999). The partitioning experiments have illustrated the dependence of grids from topology and explained the emergence of the geometry of deformed grids. However, with the exception of considering the shape torus, no attention is given to the nature of the outer boundary of the systems, especially to the nature of boundary in actual cities. For example, the axial structure of cities of London and New York do not depend only to the nature of the deformed wheel and the Manhattan grid; they also reflect the cropping effect of Thames, Hudson and East River. This paper argues that urban grids are results of two interrelated factors: the internalized order of urban grids and the

Proceedings, 6th International Space Syntax Symposium, stanbul, 2007

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