Quantified Comparison of Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism
Applying Mean Depth and Connectivity Measures in Space Syntax to Two Toronto Case Studies
ABSTRACT: Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism are two of the most recent and most relevant paradigms in contemporary urbanism. The two offer some major differences (such as density and approach towards urban sprawl, transportation mode choice, urban block size and arrangement, etc.) as well as some similarities (such as ecological sensibility, natural resource preservation, and connectivity of the urban fabric), causing them to become interested in similar urban contexts (such as post-industrial and brownfield sites), and making them comparable. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around the conceived ideological, theoretical, and physical differences of these two paradigms, where proponents of each have brought forth arguments aimed at proving the superiority of their side and refuting the other. Despite the extent of these arguments, no quantitative comparison has been offered. To this date, the majority of these discussions have remained quite superficial. This paper proposes the use of Space Syntax as a methodology that can help fill this literature gap for meaningful quantitative comparison between the two paradigms. For the purpose of this study, a comparable Landscape Urbanist and a New Urbanist project were selected. The Lower Don Lands (Landscape Urbanist) and the West Don Lands (New Urbanist) projects are both located in downtown Toronto, Canada. They are both very recent projects and are of comparable sizes. A common claim between Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism, and a relevant issue in contemporary urbanism, is the connectivity of the urban fabric. This characteristic was selected to be quantitatively compared between the two case studies through measures of the Space Syntax methodology. As such, the two case studies were compared using “connectivity” and “mean depth” measures. Results were then assessed to determine which project performed more successfully in making a connection between its site and the surrounding urban fabric.
KEYWORDS: Landscape Urbanism, New Urbanism, Space Syntax, Integration, Mean Depth
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