The representation of space is obviously a very big topic and especially with the UrbanDiary project visualisations I am always struggling with the ‘right’ way. So looking in to examples is very helpful.
I would like to come back to the ‘Space is the Machine’ example was posted HERE. It would just not go out of my mind. Essentially Hillier describes here the basic structure of the SpaceSyntax approach. Simply explained the way it works is that it describes the way a person would ‘normally’ navigate the space. Meaning that to go from one room to the other you would use the door to get there. However this is a very much physical description of space. As argued in the earlier post it is a space concept of the physical setting of built walls and floor slabs, the architects space, the boxSpace concept. Meaning that space is everything between walls where you can arrange objects, including yourself.
The approach explored with the UrbanDiary project however, is arguing that space might not exist per se, but is a resulting product of the presence of the human body together with the memory of previous experiences and projected possibilities.
If we are in one room, which might be the kitchen, we still now that next door, behind the wall, is the bathroom. We even now how the bathroom looks like and how it is organised all in relation to the current position in the kitchen. In fact this combination effort is something young children have to learn. It can be observed that babies don’t have a spatial concept and as soon as objects disappear from the filed of view they are non existent. However as children grow older a sense of space develops and they start searching for things that disappear. Then comes the point when they realise that behind the wall is something else, maybe while playing a game knocking on the separating wall from both sides. The child suddenly can connect a map of experiences with locations and ‘knows’ that behind the wall is actually another ‘known’ room, the bathroom. With this combination effort we overcome the physical-access-concept.
This synthesis is probably the mental map.
It is true that we might still use the door to go from the kitchen to the bathroom and in a physical way it makes no difference. However it rises the question of the space description as there is a need to include more ways space is processed than simply the physical aspects. Therefore it can be argued that the mental map plays an important part of this conception which is otherwise a simplification.
Images by urbanTick - London terrace house with rooms and room connections. Black dots after spaceSyntax and grey with mental connections.