2010-Spatial analysis in past built spaces workshop

Interdisciplinary and international workshop on spatial analysis in past built environments

Eleftheria Paliou
Undine Lieberwirth
Silvia Polla



The Area A-III (Archaeoinformatics) of Topoi Excellence Cluster, is
organising a two-day workshop on “Spatial analysis of past built spaces”.
The workshop is scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of April 2010, at the Topoi
building, Free University, Berlin. The two-day workshop aims to promote
discussion among a range of researchers in the disciplines of,
history/archaeology, urbanism, architecture, and computer science who have
an interest in the formal spatial analysis of past built environments. A
summary of the workshop can be found below. More information about the
Topoi Excellence
Cluster can be found at: http://www.topoi.org
The workshop is funded by the Topoi Excellence Cluster and there are no
registration fees.

Summary of the workshop:

Within archaeology, computer-based spatial analysis (for example,
GIS-based analysis) has been widely applied to the investigation of
historic and prehistoric space, both domestic and ritual. Typically,
however, the focus has been on larger spatial scales (‘landscapes’) rather
than urban spaces and buildings. More recently, a range of formal spatial
analytical methods have begun to be developed for the study of human
engagement, experience and socialisation within the built environment.
Many, although not all, of these emanate from the fields of architectural
and urban studies. Methodologies whose origins lie in Hillier and Hanson’s
Space Syntax, and in formal methods developed in the field of urban
studies (using, for example, axial and visibility graph analysis,
http://www.vr.ucl.ac.uk/research/vga/) are now gaining in popularity among
researchers of historic and prehistoric urban environments; concepts such
as visibility, movement, and accessibility within urban spaces have been
given increasingly more weight in contemporary studies of built spaces
dated in a variety of periods, such as the Aegean Bronze Age, Iron Age,
Roman period, Byzantine and Medieval Eras. The application of these new
methods within the realms of history and archaeology therefore appears
promising. Archaeological and historical research would clearly have a lot
to gain from theoretical and methodological frameworks that aim to
investigate human-environment relationships and social aspects of built
space. Equally, archaeological and historical approaches may have a
distinct contribution to make to contemporary architectural theory and
urban design concepts. An interdisciplinary meeting that brings together a
variety of researchers including archaeologists, architects, urban
planners and computer scientists to discuss common areas of interest
could, therefore, encourage new directions of research in the study of
built environment.


Presentations and discussion will take place mainly at the first day of
the workshop. The program will be arranged so that around two-thirds of
time will be dedicated to pre-prepared material, and one third for open
discussion. The invited participants will be asked to make a presentation
on spatial analysis methods that are applicable in past built
environments, such as access analysis, visibility graph analysis, isovist
analysis, agent-based models of pedestrian movement, 3D visibility
approaches. These topics raise questions which would benefit greatly from
a collaborative framework of specialists. These include:

How spatial analysis can facilitate a better understanding of human
engagement, experience and socialization in prehistoric and historic

Can methodologies developed for the investigation of contemporary
environments be successfully applied in historical and archaeological
datasets? What are the limitations? Which research directions have greater
potential to prove fruitful in future research on historic and prehistoric
built spaces?

What, if anything, can archaeological and historical perspectives
contribute to research into contemporary architectural and urban studies?

Are there any human behavioral processes in the built environment that are
common to modern, historic and prehistoric people?

The second day will be partly dedicated to a series of ‘show and tell’
demonstrations of software and analytical methods. An open forum will be
organised, with both presentation and computational facilities available
to those that are interested in participating to this event. Researchers
will be able to demonstrate software, data sets or tools, to run ‘hands
on’ demonstrations and discussions about spatial analysis in built spaces.

Provisionary program

1st of April: Space Syntax approaches

9.15-9.30 Michael Meyer (Free University, Berlin): Welcome Note

9.30-10.30 Bill Hillier (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, UCL, UK). Keynote speech: “Spatial analysis and cultural information: the need for theory as well as method”

10.45-11.15 Coffee break

11.15- 11.45 David Wheatley (University of Southampton, UK): “Seeing is still not perceiving (or hearing, touching, smelling or tasting): a short defense of visibility analysis in natural and built environments”

11.45-12.30 Peter Trebsche (Museum of Prehistory of Lower Austria) – Sabine Reinhold (DAI Berlin)- Nils Müller-Scheeßel (DAI, Frankfurt): “The social logic of prehistoric architecture”

12.30-13.00 Akkelies Van Ness (Delft University of Technology, NL): “Measuring the degree of street vitality in excavated towns. How can macro and micro spatial analyses tools contribute to understandings of urban street life in Pompeii?”

13.00-14.15 Lunch break

14.15-14.45 John Bintliff (Leiden University, NL): “Houses and Society in the Aegean from the Early Iron Age till the Impact of Rome”

14.45-15.15 Hanna Stöger (Leiden University, NL): “Roman Ostia: a scaled space syntax approach to past built and non-built environments”

15.15-15.45 Coffee break

15.45-16.15 Piraye Hacigüzeller (UCL, Belgium) & Ulrich Thaler (DAI Athens):
“… that they may not understand one another’s speech. A comparison of space syntax and GIS analyses of architectural space”

16.15-16.45 Giles Morrow (McGill University, Canada) “Analyzing the Invisible: Syntactic interpretation of archaeological remains through geophysical prospection”

16.45- 17.30 Discussion

2nd of April: 3D methods of spatial analysis
Morning session: Social aspects of 3D spaces

9.15 – 9.45 Konstantinos Athanasiou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece): “Systemic fuctional theory: the study of the 3D urban spaces of the prehistoric town of Akrotiri at Thera, Greece”

9.45 -10.15 Eleftheria Paliou (Topoi, Free University, Berlin): “Visibility analysis in 3D spaces: a new dimension to the understanding of social space”

10.15 -10.45 Graeme Earl (University of Southampton, UK) and Gareth Beale (University of Southampton, UK): “Pliny and Iridis III”

10.45-11.00 Discussion

11.00-11.30 Coffee break

11.30-13.30 “Show and tell” demonstrations:

13.30-15.00 Lunch break

Afternoon session: 3D data management and documentation

15.00-15.30 Giorgio Verdiani “From 3D Laserscan to Image Based Processing – our contribution in Cultural Heritage documentation”

15.30-16.00 Laura Pecchioli (Technische Universität, Berlin)”ISEE: retrieving information through the navigation of a 3D interactive environment”

16.00-16.30 Benjamin Stangl (Vienna University of Technology): “Operating with a Virtual Archaeological Information Model in Adobe 3D PDF”

16.30- 16.45 Discussion

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