Effects of Visibility on Presence Patterns in Public Squares (Case Study: Tehran, Narmak District)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD in Urbanism, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor of Urban Planning, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran


Widespread use of urban spaces, expresses the efficiency level of urban spatial planning and application of the patterns of space as determinative factors in efficiency of these spaces. The study of relation between spatial configuration and behavior patterns shows that these factors are affected by spatial construction of the surrounding area and the visual domain arising from space configuration. The efficiency of urban spaces is affected by the two factors of desirability of space, and supporting user’s activities by visual properties.
This study focuses on finding the relation between visual properties of spatial configuration and the quality of static presence. This relation is evaluated by using the data from observation of natural flow of pedestrian movement, level of accessibility, and level of legibility in Narmak district, Tehran. After the comparative study of well-known urban plazas in the area and choosing Nabovat plaza as the main case study, this research examined the relation between spatial configuration properties (connectivity, visual integration, visual entropy, visual control and visual controllability), and the quality of static presence in space. Achieving this objective, this study emphasizes on synchrony of observation and comparison the results by using observation techniques, recording behavior patterns and visual analysis in space syntax using DepthMap software. The results indicate that there is a direct relation between visual control and visual controllability and the patterns of static presence at the central part of the plaza. Finding common areas between physical aspects of environmental design and social aspects of human interactions has many complexities. This research focuses on studying user’s behaviors and the visual configuration of space in a case study. In order to understand behaviors in association with urban form elements, it is necessary to use minimal scale including “sight and moving” directions. This study is based on this issue that the complexity of space can be studied by checking static behaviors arising from the motive of attendance, their visual perceptions and also social interactions. It seems possible to achieve an understanding of interaction between effective factors in the state of user’s behavior and its relation with the visibility in the field of space configuration, by investigating the patterns of behaviors in minimal scale of environment.
This research is a practical study with combined (qualitative and quantitative) methods and a post-positivist approach. In theoretical basis, this study has a qualitative approach and in the practical application, it has been assigned to the study of an objective case of people presence in public space and its relation with configurational qualities of space in combined approach. According to behavioral dimensions and space configuration, observation techniques are used to collect required data about “static and moving patterns” of users, and space syntax technique is used for analyzing the configuration features. Then, the data collected from surveying space using patterns and configuration features is analyzed by two-variable correlation analysis.
Results and discussion
In this study, there are four public spaces investigated that are all located in Narmak district in Tehran. The level of arrival and departure of pedestrians is calculated using the gate technique in a typical daily life (12 hours’ period), and shows that the most pedestrian flow is estimated at Resalat sq. and then at Nabovat sq., 100th sq. and Helal-e-Ahmar sq.
In order to evaluate spatial configuration of these squares, the main indicators in space syntax technique are investigated and analyzed using DepthMap software. Resalat sq. has the most values of integration (Rn), integration (R3) and global choice, and the less depth, but Nabovat sq. has the most synergy, connectivity and choice (800) indicators that are more important to investigate the quality of pedestrian presence in space. So Nabovat sq. is more appropriate to be observed in details.
The next observations show that 6.pm to 8.pm is the most crowded time period at nabovat sq. (8000 P.P.H arrival and 7000 P.P.H departure). Static and dynamic behaviors also are observed at this period of time and the results are registered in maps in order to identify places preferred by users for static behaviors such as seating, resting and watching others.
In order to analyze the visual configuration of Nabovat sq. indicators such as “visual integration”, “connectivity”, “atrophy”, “visual control” and “visual controllability”, are analyzed by a visual graph map in 150m radius from center of square and in 1 meter pixels in DepthMap. because of differences between the margin (dominating dynamic activities) and the middle of the space (static activities), the investigation has been done more detailed in the middle of the square that is divided into six subspaces (A-F) are analyzed to raise accuracy, and eventually using Pearson Correlation Coefficient the relation between these activities and spatial configuration properties. 
In the field of voluntary presence in public space, the users can be significantly affected by each other. Generally in selected activities, it is a rule that users join others, where people are gathering and disperse from where people are dispersing. Studying urban spaces needs full attention to the all different aspects forming the space to achieve a deep understanding of using patterns. In this study two different aspect of public space (patterns of use and spatial configuration indicators), are studied trying to explain the relation between them. studying the level and the quality of people static presence and being them affected by spatial configuration, shows that visual Possibilities has a dominant role in shaping static behaviors of users.
The results of this study indicates that in urban space fields of study, Researchers can use methods of analysis in behavioral patterns and also space syntax as an effective technique in studying geometric features of build environment and its influence on the patterns of use. And realizing the relation between patterns of use and spatial configuration of space can be raised as an effective issue in decision making and urban policies.


Main Subjects

  1. آلتمن، ایروین، 1382، محیط و رفتار اجتماعی، ترجمة علی نمازیان، انتشارات دانشگاه بهشتی، تهران.
  2. دهخدا، علی‌اکبر، 1379، لغت‌نامة دهخدا (نسخة الکترونیکی)، شرکت نرم‌افزاری پروچست.
  3. کالن، گوردون، 1377، گزیدة منظر شهری، ترجمة منوچهر طبیبیان، انتشارات دانشگاه تهران.
  4. کلانتری، خلیل، 1387، پردازش و تحلیل داده‌ها در تحقیقات اجتماعی- اقتصادی، فرهنگ صبا، تهران.
  5. گل، یان و بریجیت سوار، 1394، چگونه زندگی همگانی را مطالعه کنیم؟ ترجمة مصطفی بهزادفر، محمد رضایی ندوشن، احمد رضایی ندوشن، علم معماری، تهران.
  6. لینچ، کوین، 1381، تئوری شکل شهر، ترجمة سید حسین بحرینی، انتشارات دانشگاه تهران.
  7. هال، ادوارد. تی، 1384، بعد پنهان، ترجمة منوچهر طبیبیان، انتشارات دانشگاه تهران.
    1. Alexander, C. et al., 1977, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Constructions, Oxford University Press.
    2. Altman, I., 1986, Culture and Environment, Cambridge University Press.

10. Altman, I., 2003, The Environment and Social Behavior. Translated By: Ali Namazian, Shahid Beheshti University Publication. (In Persian)

11. Appleyard, D., Gerson, S. M., and Lintell, M., 1981, Livable Streets, University of California.

12. Arruda Campos, M. B., 1997, Strategic Spaces: Patterns of Use in Public Squares of the City of London, The First International Symposium on Space, London: University College London.

13. Arruda Campos, M. B., 1999, All That Meets the Eye: Overlapping Isovists as a Tool for Understanding Preferable Location of Static Peoplein Public Squares in Public Squares, Second International Symposium on Space Syntax. Brasilia: University of Brasilia.

14. Arruda Campos, M. B., and Golka, T., 2005, Public Spaces Revisted: A Study of the Relationship Between Patterns of Stationary Activity and Visual Fields, 5th International Space Syntax Symposium, Delft: Tudelft.

15. Bada, Y., and Guney, Y. I., 2009, Visibility and Spatial Use in Urban Plazas, In D. Koch, L. Marcus, and J. Steen (Ed.), Sss7, (PP. 006-1, 006-11), Stockholm: KTH.

16. Bosselman, P., 1987, Experiencing Downtown Streets in San Francisco, In A. V. Moudon (Ed.), Public Streets for Public Use, Van Nostrand Reinhold.

17. Carr, S., Francis, M., Rivlin, L. G., Stone, A. M., 1992, Public Space, Cambridge University Press.

18. Chang, D., and Penn, A., 1998, Integrated Multilevel Circulation in Dense Urban Areas, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, No. 25, PP. 507-538.

19. Cowan, R., 2005, The Dictionary of Urbanism, Street Wise Press, Wiltshire.

20. Cooper Marcus, C., and Francis, C., 1997, People Places: Design Guidlines for Urban Open Space (2nd Ed.), John Wiley and Sons.

21. Cullen, G., 1998, The Concise Townscape, Translated by: Manouchehr Tabibian, Tehran University Publication. (In Persian)

22. Dehkhoda, A. A., 2000, Dehkhoda Encyclopedia, Prochest Software Co. (In Persian)

23. Forty, A., 2002, Square, But Not Square, Building Design.

24. Francis, M., 1987, Urban Open Spaces, In E. H. Zube, and G. T. Moore (Eds.), Advances in Environment, Behavior, And Design (PP. 71-106), Plenum Press.

25. Francis, M., 2003, Urban Open Space: Designing for User Needs, Island Press.

26. Friedrich, E., Hillier, B., and Chiaradia, A., 2009, Anti-Social Behaviour and Urban Configuration. Sss7, (PP. 034-1, 034-16). Stockholm: KTH.

27. Gehl, J., 1987, Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, Van Nostrand Reinhold.

28. Gehl, J., and Svarre, B., 2015, How to Study Public Life,Translated by Mostafa Behzadfar, Mohammad Rezaie Nadoushan and Ahmad Rezaie Nadoushan, Elme Memari. (In Persian)

29. Gibberd, F., 1967, Town Design, Architect. P.

30. Gibson, J. J., 1979, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Houghton Mifflin.

31. Hall, E. T., 2005, The Hidden Dimension, Translated by: Manouchehr Tabibian, Tehran University Publication. (In Persian)

32. Hillier, B., 1985, The Nature of the Artificial: The Contingent and the Necessary in Spatial Form in Architecture, Geoforum16, No. 2, PP. 163-178.

33. Hillier, B., 1996, Space is the Machine, UCL Space Synax Laboratory.

34. Hillier, B., Burdett, R., Peponis, J., and Penn, A., 1987, Creating Life: Or, Does Architecture Determine Anything, Arch. and Comport./Arch.Behav, Vol. 3, No. 3, PP. 233-250.

35. Hillier, B., and Hanson, J., 1984, The Social Logic of Space, Cambridge University Press.

36. Hillier, B., Hanson, J., and Graham, H., 1987, Ideas Are in Things: An Application of the Space Syntax Method to Discovering House Genotypes, Environment and Planning B. 363-385.

37. Hillier, B., Penn, A., Hanson, J., Grajewski, T., and Xu, J., 1993, Natural Movement: Or Configuration and Attraction in Urban Pedestrian Movement, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, No. 20, PP. 2029-2066.

38. Hillier, B., and Sahbaz, O., 2009, Crime and Urban Design: An Evidence Based Approach, In R. Cooper, G. Evans, and C. Boyko (Eds.), Designing Sustainable Cities: Decision-Making Tools And Resources For Design (PP. 163-186). Wiley Blackwell.

39. Isaacs, R., 2000, The Urban Picturesque: An Aesthetic Experience of Urban Pedestrian Places. Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 5, No. 2, PP. 145-180.

40. Kalantari, Kh., 2008, Data Processing and Analysis in Socio-Economic Research, Farhang Saba. (In Persian)

41. Kaplan, S., and Kaplan, S., 1983, Cognition and Environment, Praeger.

42. Kim, Y. O., 2001, The Role of Spatial Configuration in Spatial Cognition, In J. Hanson (Ed.), 3rd International Space Syntax Symposium, Atlanta GA.

43. Krier, R., 1979, Urban Space, Academy Editions.

44. Long, Y., 2007, The Relationships Between Objective and Subjective Evaluations of the Urban Environment: Space Syntax, Cognitve Maps, and Urban Legibility, Phd Thesis, North Carolina.

45. Lynch, K., 2002, A Theory of City Form, Translated by: Seyed Hossein Bahrainy, University Publication, Tehran. (In Persian)

46. Moudon, A. V., 1992, A Catholic Approach to Organizing What Urban Designers Should Know, Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 6, No. 4, PP. 331-349.

47. Moughtin, C., 1992, Urban Design: Street and Square, Architectural Press.

48. Nasar, J. L., 2000, Design by Competition: Making Design Competition Work, Cabridge University Press.

49. Omer, I., and Goldblatt, R., 2015, Spatial Patterns of Retail Activity and Street Network Structure in New and Traditional Israeli Cities, Urban Geography, Vol. 37, No. 4, PP. 629-649.

50. Papargyropoulo, P., 2006, Park Interpratations: Exploration of Spatial Properties, MA Thesis, The Bartleet School, Unversity College of London.

51. Peponis, J., Hadjinikolaou, E., Livieratos, C., and Fatouros, D. A., 1989, The Spatial Core of Urban Culture, Ekistics, Vol. 56, No. 334/ 335, PP. 43-55.

52. Peponis, J., Zimring, C., and Choi, Y. K., 1990, Finding the Building in Wayfinding, Environment and Behavior, No. 2, PP. 100-116.

53. Rodriguez, C., Sakr, F. L., Griffiths, S., and Hillier, B., 2012, The Relationship of Spatial Configuration and Socio-Economic Conditions in São Paulo, Brazil, 8th International Space Syntax Symposium, (PP. 8079:1-8079:24), Santiago.

54. Sevtsuk, A., 2010, Path and Place: A Study of Urban Geometry and Retail Activity in Cambridge and Somerville, Phd Dissertation, MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

55. Simpson, J. A., and Weiner, E., 2000, The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Ed.), Oxford University Press.

56. Sitte, C., 1889, The Art of Building Cities: City Building According to Its Artistic Fundamentals, Reinhold.

57. Thiel, P., 1996, People, Paths, and Purposes: Notations for a Participatory Envirotecture, University of Washington Press.

58. Turner, A., 2001, From Isovist to Visibility Graphs: A Methodology for the Analysis of Architectural Space. Environmental and Planning B, No. 28, PP. 103-121.

59. Turner, A., 2004, Depthmap4: A Researcher’s Handbook, UCL.

60. Unwin, R., 1909, Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs, Princeton Architectural Press.

61. Whyte, W. H., 1980, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, Conservation Foundation.

62. Whyte, W. H., 1988, City: Rediscovering the Center, Doubleday.

Zucker, P., 1959, Town and Square: From the Agora to the Village Green, The MIT Press.