ESRG/Paper Exchange

Welcome. This page presents new or recent work by members, or by associates who discuss members' work. Your comments and additional posts of papers are welcome. We invite your discussion below. (Sign on, then click "edit".)

Currently we are featuring Bill Hillier's recent work.

Bill is Professor of Architectural and Urban Morphology, Chairman of the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, and Director, Space Syntax Laboratory, University College London

NEW PAPER: Cities, Mind and Societies: Geometrical Explorations Towards a Design Level Analytic Theory




Bill writes: "[The paper] talks about the object of research being to change the designer's understanding of what it is they are designing - hence what I call an analytic theory. I'm very concerned with the idea that good research and good theory can free the designer's mind and lead him or her to adventure into novel forms and spaces more securely. The last couple of pages of the text ... make links to the philosophy of science in a way that some might find either interesting or provocative."

NEW PAPER: A Note on the Intuiting of Form

Bill writes: "...a short one I wrote about design a few years ago (with obvious reference to Chris Alexander) as a kind of reflection on 'design methods' after decades of developing space syntax. It is a kind of defence of informed intuition in architecture - as indeed is my book Space is the Machine. It raises question about patterns: how changing a part can change the whole, how patterns are different from different points of view and how these two things raise special kinds of problems in combining patterns - hence my abiding - and some might say unfashionable - interest in overall structure, albeit of the emergent kind."

NEW PAPER: The Golden Age for Cities? How We Design Cities is How We Understand Them

Proposed research priorities for the 21st Century

Issue 100, Urban Design, "Visions of the Future"

NEW PAPER: Studying Cities to Learn About Minds:

How Geometric Intuitions Shape Urban Space and Make It Work

Keynote Address, Conference on Spatial Cognition

Abstract. What can we learn of the human mind by examining its products? Here it is argued that a great deal can be learned, and that the study of human minds through its creations in the real world could be a promising field of study within the cognitive sciences. The city is a case in point. Since the beginning of cities human ideas about them have been dominated by geometric ideas, and the real history of cities has always oscillated between the geometric and the ‘organic’. Set in the context of the suggestion from cognitive neuroscience that we impose more geometric order on the world that it actually possesses, an intriguing question arises: what is the role of geometric intuition in how we understand cities and how we create them? Here we argue that all cities, the organic as well as the geometric, are pervasively ordered by geometric intuition, so that neither the forms of the cities nor their functioning can be understood without insight into their distinctive and pervasive emergent geometrical forms. The city is, as it is often said to be, the creation of economic and social processes, but, it is argued, these processes operate within an envelope of geometric possibility defined by human minds in its interaction with spatial laws that govern the relations between objects and spaces in the world.

RECENT PAPER: The Art of Place and the Science of Space Special Edition, World Architecture

"The best introduction to Space Syntax" - Bill Hillier

WORKING PAPER: Toward Evidence-Based Urban Design


Previous Papers Posted

Following is a paper referred by Jim Wise, a Ph.D. dissertation by Yannick Joye at the University of Ghent that cites several ESRG colleagues' works, including Nikos Salingaros, Stephen Kellert and Roger Ulrich. This paper is titled "A Tentative Argument for the Inclusion of Nature-Based Forms in Architecture", and it covers issues of cognition, aesthetics, evidence-based design, geometric complexity and more.

In addition, we include the following link to the paper "Social Housing in Latin America: A Method to Utilize Processes of Self-Organization." This paper, a collaboration of five ESRG members, grew out of work in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Brazil. It discusses recently-discussed topics of self-organization and evidence-based design. (See for example the notes from the New Orleans symposium at