Evaluating Experiential Qualities of Historical Streets in Nanxun Canal Town through a Space Syntax Approach
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Yabing Xu, Alexander RolloAlexander Rollo, Yolanda EstebanYolanda Esteban
Many studies have been conducted to measure the experiential qualities of historical streets using the standards and principles released by many global organizations. However, little attention has been paid to the effect of spatial characteristics of historical heritage. This study proposes a space syntax-based methodology, first developed by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson with colleagues from the Bartlett School of Architecture, while introducing factors such as complexity, coherence, ‘mystery’, and legibility from the work of environmental psychologist Stephen Kaplan and the urban designer Gordon Cullen. Our intention is to help inform urban designers in understanding people’s spatial cognition of historical streets, and thereby assist designers and managers in identifying where cognitive experiences can be improved. The proposed method is applied to Nanxun, which is a developed canal town currently in decline in Zhejiang Province, China. This will be treated as the case study in order to explore the implication of the space syntax analysis. The impact from spatial characteristics on the evaluation is indirect and largely determined by the road-network of the canal town. As for Nanxun, the findings of this research suggest that the government’s priority is to solve current negative tourist perception based on a conservation restoration plan. The findings of this research provide a reference for policymakers to better understand the experiential qualities of historical streets in townscapes.