Consequences of architectural form on social interaction:
function as a basis for housing studies through expanded space syntax analysis

Catarina RUIVO*1


This paper is an evolution of former research on how human activities, organized by the architectural form of housing, act on the way individuals and social groups interact with each other. This research aimed to be a global vision of the evolution of housing during the twentieth century, and the development of what is an experimental basis of a formal method of analysis of Architecture which, flexible, may be adapted to new knowledge.

The communication will present thirteen case studies of collective housing in Porto, between 1933 and the present day. As it isn’t the understanding of a certain architectural period that is searched, but the general understanding of the design logics of housing in relation to different historical and social moments of the twentieth century, the case studies are comprehensive, both at a social and architectural level, and representative of a determined movement, initiative, or phase. They are spaced throughout the studied period and chosen from private and public promotion, as to build a representative chronology of what the architecture of collective housing was throughout the twentieth century.

This is done along with the development of a methodology based on space syntax, expanded to integrate the architectural functions related to dwelling (seen here as existing as much in the apartment, as in the building and neighbourhood) as an attribute of analysis. The methodology explores the quantification of the relations between functions: relations of mobility – how direct the accessibility between functions is -, visibility – how much a function sees to and is seen from each one and the globality of the others -, and density – how much larger or smaller a function is than the others in the same social system. From these concepts of privacy and segregation can be defined, as well as others, essentials to their construction, from which we can draw conclusions about the case studies.

The methodology developed to quantify privacy and segregation in housing and housing complexes was firstly based solely on two dimensions representations of space, mainly plans, and completed with resource to new software for 3d analysis, DepthSpace3D. Deficiencies of two-dimensional analysis are rectified with the present work, especially when it comes to the analysis of visual relations. These encountered severe limitations when treated with a 2d analysis, especially in the case of multi-storey buildings, and in the analysis of the integration of interior space with the outside, and a three dimensional approach allows to explore.

Catarina Ruivo is Master of Architecture by the Faculty of Architecture of Porto’s University since 2014. She has participated in the 2nd International Symposium of Formal Methods in Architecture, participated in competitions and worked as an architect for different architecture firms.