ABE 003

ABE003 | Spatial Analysis

Spatial analysis for urban and regional studies: an introduction to Space Syntax and GIS

Limited access! This course is part of the European Postgraduate Masters in Urbanism (EMU). Each year, a maximum of five A+BE PhD candidates can participate. This is mainly because the course requires intensive tuition on the computer and this is impossible if we have too many students.

The objective of this course is to introduce the students with different spatial analyses and design support tools. The students will be able to relate spatial data from various sources with place bounded socio-economic data through the use of GIS and Space Syntax. The framework of the course is set by the concept of geodesign which according to Campagna [2014] ‘is an integrated process informed by environmental sustainability appraisal, that includes project conceptualisation, analysis, projection and forecasting, diagnosis, alternative design, impact simulation and assessment, and which involves a number of technical, political and social actors in collaborative decision-making. 

The variety of tools introduced, allows the students to support planning and design decisions from the local to the regional scale. The students will be presented with a set of technological based tools for urban and regional analyses and modelling. The main focus will be on network analyses using the Space Syntax method and GIS supported methods. Moreover, the students get an introduction to basic computer aided spatial analyses and statistics. The students will get a chance to test and apply the knowledge gained through the technology course during the in-class exercises and through the assignments. Additionally, the students will be able to closely interact with a reflective attitude when using these tools in the planning and design process in their design and strategic planning projects or on their own research projects

Space Syntax allows to analyse how the layout of the build environment influences the social, economic and environmental performance of places from the scale of the entire city to the scale of the individual street and building. Space syntax allows to measure the strength of spatial layouts, both existing and proposed, and to interpret how spatial layouts impact the way that people move, interact and transact in streets and buildings.

A geographic information system (GIS) is a tool that integrates hardware, software and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. The GIS session focus each on different spatial aspects: demographical distribution, different forms of density and accessibility. Spatial research questions for all these aspects are developed and the students are introduced to the different tools that are provided by ArcGIS to investigate them. 

The aim of this technology-based course is to underpin strategic design scenarios through using and developing representation and evaluation models. Likewise, the representation and evaluation models will be used to support the decision-making process in a transparent, scientific, accurate, accelerated and flexible manner. At the end of the semester students will be able to propose own ideas on how to approach problems during planning and design process through scientific grounded tools.


The assessment consists of two parts. The first part is a presentation of each assignment during the lectures. The second part is an application of GIS and Space Syntax on the studio work or own research project.

Teaching Method

The course consists of eight half-day sessions. Four sessions focus on the spatial modelling part with a main focus on the space syntax method, and four sessions focus on the GIS based spatial analyses and modelling. Parts of every session are used to integrate the different tools presented. 


BATTY, M., M. DODGE, et al. (1999). “GIS and Urban Design.” in Geertman S., Openshaw, S. and Stillwell, J. (ed.) Geographical Information and Planning: European Perspectives: 43-65. http://www.casa.ucl.ac.uk/working_papers/paper3.pdf

GAETAN, C., GUYON, X., & BLEAKLEY, K. (2010). Spatial statistics and modeling (p. 298). Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-0-387-922577.pdf


HILLIER, B (1999), The common language of space, www.spacesyntax.org publications/commonlang.html

HILLIER, B (2006), Can streets be made safe? www.spacesyntax.com/Files/ MediaFiles/CAN_STREETS_BE_MADE_SAFE.pdf

HILLIER, B. A. Penn, J. HANSON, T. GRAJEWSKI, and J. XU, (1993). Natural movement: or, configuration and attraction in urban pedestrian movement, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 1993, volume 20, 29 - 66. 

KRIVORUCHKO, K., & GOTWAY, C. A. (1995). Using Spatial Statistics In GIS. New York, 713–718.

MACEACHREN, A. M. (2004). How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design (Vol. 3, p. 513). Guilford Press. Retrieved from books.google.com books?hl=en&lr=&id=xhAvN3B0CkUC&pgis=1

MILLER, W. R. (2012). Introducing Geodesign : The Concept. ESRI Press.

VAN NES, A (2013) Configurative methods in urban studies (forthcoming).

PARADIS, T., TREML, M., & MANONE, M. (2013). Geodesign meets curriculum design: integrating geodesign approaches into undergraduate programs. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, (August), 1–28. doi:10.1080/17549175.2013.788054

STILLWELL, J., & CLARKE, G. (2004). Applied GIS and spatial analysis. Cities. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved from onlinelibrary.wiley.com doi/10.1002/0470871334.fmatter/summary


Additional Reading

BERTUGLIA, C.S., G.P. CLARKE and A.G. WILSON (eds.) (1994) Modelling the city: Performance, policy and planning, London: Routledge.

HILLIER, B (1996), Space is the Machine, Cambridge University Press. www. spacesyntax.com/tool-links/downloads/space-is-the-machine.aspx

JIANG, B., C. CLARAMUNT, et al. (2000). “Integration of space syntax into GIS for modelling urban spaces.” International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 2(3- 4): 161-171.

POPPER K R, (1968) Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach, Oxford University press. (Chapter 1, pp. 1-31)

STEINITZ, C. (2012). A Framework for Geodesign: Changing Geography by Design (p. 224). ESRI Press. 

VAN NES, A (2001), Road Building and Urban Change, Proceedings 3rd International Space Syntax Symposium, Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 

VAN NES, A and LOPEZ, M. (2007), Micro scale spatial relationships, Proceedings 6th International Space Syntax Symposium, Istanbul. 

POPPER, K.R (1999) “All live is problem solving,” in Popper In search for a better world: Lectures and essays from thirty years, London: Routledge.

STÅHLE, A., L. Marcus, et al. (2005). “Place Syntax - Geographic Accessibility with Axial Lines in GIS.” 5th International Space Syntax Symposium: 1-13. www.spacesyntax. tudelft.nl/media/Long%20papers%20I/stahle.pdf 


  7 September 202010.15 -13:15Online
  14 Septemer 202010.15 -13:15Online
21 September 202010.15 -13:15Online
28 September 202010.15 -13:15Online
    12 October 202010.15 -13:15Online
    26 October 202010.15 -13:15Online
  2 November 202010.15 -13:15Online
  9 November 202010.15 -13:15Online

How to enroll

Please send an email with your name, mail address, start date, research group and title of your research to abe@tudelft.nl

Course Info

Course code
ABE 003

Course type
lectures with workshops

Most appropriate for
PhD candidates at all stages

Free for PhD candidates of A+BE Graduate School

Number of participants
min. 8 /max. 16

Name of lecturer(s)/coach(es)
Dr. Scient. A. van Nes
Dr. A. Wandl

Course load
8 sessions with lectures and exercises

Graduate School credits


Once a year, from September 2020.

Upcoming course dates and times
Fall 2020, see schedule

For further information, please contact Luiz De Carvalho Filho and emu-bk@tudelft.nl