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.


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Volume 51, Issue 4
January 2020
Pages 931-950
  • Receive Date: 23 February 2018
  • Revise Date: 11 March 2018
  • Accept Date: 11 March 2018
  • First Publish Date: 22 December 2019