Space and the machine

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Space is the machine
Bill Hillier


Since The social logic of space was published in 1984,
Bill Hillier and his colleagues at University College London have
been conducting research on how space features in the form and
functioning of buildings and cities. A key outcome is the concept of
‘spatial configuration’ — meaning relations which take account of other
relations in acomplex. New techniques have been developed and
applied to a wide range of architectural and urban problems. The aim
of this book is to assemble some of this work and show how it leads
the way to a new type of theory of architecture: an ‘analytic’ theory in
which understanding and design advance together. The success of
configurational ideas in bringing to light the spatial logic of buildingsand cities suggests that it might be possible to extend these ideas to
other areas of the human sciences where problems of configuration
and pattern are critical.

Space is the machine
Bill Hillier

A configurational theory
of architecture

‘ house is a machine for living in…’
A
Le Corbusier (1923)

‘ ut I thought that all that functional stuff
B
had been refuted.Buildings aren’t
machines.’ Student
‘ ou haven’t understood. The building isn’t the
Y
machine. Space is the machine.’ Nick Dalton,
Computer Programmer at University College
London (1994)

Hardback and paperback
editions first published in the
United Kingdom in 1996 and 1999,
respectively, by the Press Syndicate
of the University of Cambridge.
This electronic edition published
in 2007by:
Space Syntax
4 Huguenot Place, Heneage Street
London E1 5LN
United Kingdom
www.spacesyntax.com
Copyright © Bill Hillier 2004, 2007
ISBN 978-0-9556224-0-3
Layout and design
by Christian Altmann
Set in Haas Unica

Contents





Preface to the e-edition
Acknowlegdements
Introduction

v
xii
1

Part one
Chapter one
Chapter two
Chapter three

Theoreticalpreliminaries
What architecture adds to building
The need for an analytic theory of architecture
Non-discursive technique

10
39
65

Part two
Chapter four
Chapter five
Chapter six
Chapter seven

Non-discursive regularities
Cities as movment economies
Can architecture cause social malaise?
Time as an aspect of space
Visible colleges

111
138
171
190

Partthree
Chapter eight
Chapter nine

The laws of the field
Is architecture an ars combinatoria?
The fundamental city

216
262

Part four
Chapter ten
Chapter eleven

Theoretical syntheses
Space is the machine
The reasoning art

288
314



Index

344

Contents

Space is the machine | Bill Hillier

Space Syntax

v

Preface to the e-edition

Spaceis the Machine was first published in 1996 by Cambridge University Press.
The book built on the theory of society and space set out in The Social Logic of
Space (Cambridge University Press 1984), to outline a configurational theory of
architecture and urbanism. Unfortunately, although The Social Logic of Space is
still in print after 23 years, when the initial print-run of Space is theMachine was
exhausted, the number of colour plates forbad the use of the cheap reprinting
technology that would have made a succession of reprints economically viable.
So, although the book was selling well at the time, it fell out of print. As demand
for the book has continued, for several years copies of the book have either been
impossible to find or prohibitively expensive.

I am nowimmensely pleased that Space Syntax Limited, with support from
University College London (UCL), have decided to rectify this situation by creating
a new e-edition of the book and making it available for free on the web. I am
particularly grateful to Tim Stonor for the initial decision to fund the project, to Tim,
Chris Stutz and Shinichi Iida for organizing and managing the project and...
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