Space Syntax – a consultancy that uses an in-house “science-based, human-focused” methodology to guide the optimum planning direction for buildings and urban spaces – has always aimed to share its research, theory and findings.
Now, the long-held dream of launching an academy to educate industry students and professionals in evidence-based planning is taking off. Space Syntax theory and the application of its techniques is being taught to individuals and organisations who can use the approach to better understand human behaviour in space and how to achieve the best social, economic and environmental performance for their project and surrounding communities.
“Our business plan is built around the idea of dissemination. We’ve developed a powerful and effective urban technology and we’ve always believed that it should be used more broadly than just by us,” says Tim Stonor, managing director at Space Syntax. “We’ve been working on setting up the Space Syntax Academy for some time and now it’s really taking off. We recently taught a planning institute in northeast China in Changchun, a one-year contract where we trained 20 young planners to be hands-on using our technology. They created plans from scratch with Space Syntax embedded in their thinking. That’s a perfect example of what we want to do more of.”
Space Syntax offers three avenues for those who want to learn more. There’s a free-to-use online training platform, which people can use to self-teach. The next option is for Space Syntax to deliver the programme on-site, as they did with the Changchun Institute of Urban Planning and Design, where Stonor and his colleagues led five days of training per month. The course is taught through interactive workshops and hands-on technical training. The third option is for people to train at the Space Syntax studio, where they can be hands-on with their own work work or with a Space Syntax project.
“Some people want to engage fully with the technology itself. Some want to learn the principles as rules of thumb to apply to their planning and design work. We don’t want to be too prescriptive because all clients are different,” Stonor says.
He adds that the course would benefit all stakeholder groups, whether they are architects, designers, planners, economists, politicians, developers or investors. Previous clients include Swindon Borough Council, University College London, the Architectural Association and Harvard University.