22 May 2018 – Workshop – Using Space syntax methods to explore the distribution of meeting places in 19th century historic maps


This seminar is 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm, 22 May 2018 in Room 203 (the John S Cohen Room), second floor, Institute of Historical Research. The IHR is in the North block of Senate House, University of London. Find Senate House on Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU. It will also be livestreamed.

This workshop draws on an interdisciplinary research collaboration between the Department of History at the University of Hertfordshire and the Space Syntax Laboratory at the Bartlett to School of Architecture using space syntax approach to examine the distribution of political meetings in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Space syntax is a theory and method of spatial analysis with its origins in architectural and urban design research. Its primary value to urban historians lies in providing high-resolution quantitative spatial descriptions that can differentiate between different elements of a street network (i.e. streets, squares and open spaces) on the basis of their accessibility. This spatial data layer can be cross-referenced with traditional historical sources mapped at street level in a GIS to assist interpretation of their distribution across urban space, for example in seeking to understand the different accessibility profiles of mappable urban activities. Interdisciplinary research is as much a process of developing a mutual understanding of the research process as it is about acquiring ‘new tools’. Reflecting on our own (ongoing) learning process during this collaboration the workshop will provide an introduction to the historical research using space syntax accompanied by some ‘hands-on’ exercises in the use of space syntax methods and invite participants to join our discussion about the challenges of applying space syntax analysis to historical questions and the interpretative possibilities it presents.

Katrina Navickas is Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire. Her new book, Protest and the Politics of Space and Place, 1789-1848, was published by Manchester University Press in 2015. She is best known for her research on the Luddites, and has published widely on popular protest and politics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Sam Griffiths studied history at the University of Sheffield and took his doctorate at UCL’s Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. He is currently Lecturer in Spatial Cultures in the Space Syntax Laboratory at the Bartlett School of Architecture. His research is highly interdisciplinary, advocating the value in bringing formal spatial morphological methods to questions of urban social history, and historical perspectives to questions of urban design. Recent publications include an edited collection for Routledge Spatial Cultures: towards a new social morphology of cities (2016) and an article on the materialities of civic memory in Victorian Sheffield for Distinktion Journal of Social Theory (2016).

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