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Michael Batty (2001)
Journal: Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Types: Article
The space that can be seen from any vantage point is called an isovist and the set of such spaces forms a visual field whose extent defines different isovist fields based on different geometric properties. I suggest that our perceptions of moving within such fields might be related to these geometric properties. I begin with a formal representation of isovists and their fields, introducing simple geometric measures based on distance, area, perimeter, compactness, and convexity. I suggest a feasible computational scheme for measuring such fields, and illustrate how we can visualize their spatial and statistical properties by using maps and frequency distributions. I argue that the classification of fields based on these measures must be a prerequisite to the proper analysis of architectural and urban morphologies. To this end, I present two hypothetical examples based on simple geometries and three real examples based on London's Tate Gallery, Regent Street, and the centre of the English town of Wolverhampton. Although such morphologies can often be understood in terms of basic geometrical elements such as corridors, streets, rooms, and squares, isovist analysis suggests that visual fields have their own form which results from the interaction of geometry and movement. To illustrate how such analysis can be used, I outline methods of partitioning space, covering it with a small number of relatively independent isovists, and perceiving space by recording properties of the isovist fields associated with paths through that space.
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