Spatial morphology of rebel cities: The cases of Madrid, Merida and Istanbul

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Space Syntax Laboratory, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

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The year 2011 went down in history as the year in which urban movements spread worldwide. The movements which found root in some countries before 2011 resulted in the revolution in Tunisia which became a bellwether. Following Tunisia, urban movements were then witnessed in Arab world countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Bahrain, to be referred to as the 'Arab Spring' which was followed by 'Indignados' and 'Occupy', respectively. As for the urban movements in Turkey, the 'Gezi Park' incidents of June 2013 have common points with the movements that spread over the whole world. In this study, the spatial morphology of Rebel Cities, as defined by David Harvey (2013), was analysed. The aim of the study is to reveal the potential relations between urban movements and spatial morphology. For this purpose, the starting process, development and results of urban movements were initially analysed. It is known that governments, the present-day urban perception, viewpoints regarding urban rights and the commodifying of cities are the major causes of these movements. Research demonstrates that the Internet and social media, as communication methods of our age, have played a leading role in urban movements (Castells, 2013). Alternatively, the view that 'place' has an impact on the interaction of city dwellers, their coming together; thus, the emergence of urban movements is a view that is proposed within the scope of this paper. In this paper, it is argued that experiencing face-to-face communication in public space has greater value and effectiveness than coming together on the Internet environment. The movement, which was triggered by gathering on social media, became visible in urban space. It also became greater and more permanent. This could be observed in the cases of Egypt, Spain, the USA, and even Turkey. The urban movements that either start in a low-income neighbourhood of a city or are triggered by incidents in a city centre without making a call for a movement on the Internet indicate the significance of urban spaces that make it possible to come together and interact. The hypothesis of our study is tested within the framework of the analyses and evaluations conducted in three different cities. According to this scope, with the 'Indignados' movement of Madrid, Spain, with 'Resist Gezi Park' in Istanbul, Turkey, and with the city of Merida, Spain, which did not participate in the countrywide movement, their spatial morphology has been analysed. The method used in the study is space syntax analysis which helps to reveal the social logic of space. Space syntax analysis was conducted in places where these movements were visible in urban space and in the main public space of the city where there was no movement. As a result of these analyses, it can be seen that the gathering spaces in cities where urban movements are observed had integrated values at local (micro-R3) and global (macro-Rn) scales, and that the axes connecting these spaces had the highest values. On the graphs, they are coloured in red and orange which represents integration. As for the city where no urban movement was observed, the most integrated spaces were not found to be of the quality and accessibility that would shelter a potential gathering of city dwellers. According to the findings of the study, one of the common points of the cities whose movements were anaysed is the presence of public spaces in those cities. The major factor that triggers urban movements is the quality and accessibility of public spaces (squares, streets, parks) where city dwellers may gather. These findings indicated that public spaces were significant as one of the major elements causing urban movements, enabling city dwellers to come together. This study reveals the importance of the potential of urban space to allow social encounters in terms of democracy.


10th International Space Syntax Symposium, SSS 2015 -- 13 July 2015 through 17 July 2015 -- -- 117785

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Public space, Rebel cities, Space syntax, Urban morphology, Urban movements


SSS 2015 - 10th International Space Syntax Symposium

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