2019 Volume 7 Issue 2 Pages 125-142
The quality of urban public space in general, and urban plazas in particular, has been a concern and a major challenge for designers in setting rules and principles to its layout and its design; functional and aesthetic. Environmental and behavioural research contributes importantly to the understanding of the interaction between user and space, to well respond to users’ real needs; and to have design grounded in social understanding. In pertinent literature, it is common to argue that the most important measures of the success of an open space is attributed to its location, design, and use. In this matter, space syntax provides theory and method to analyse the correlation between spatial properties and people behaviour; understanding this interaction helps in design, with improved design leading to more functional places. This paper instigates from the assumption that human behaviour in space is highly dependent on visibility generated by the built environment configuration, and it aims to look into the correlation between the use of space and spatial quantitative measures, i.e. the syntactic properties of an urban plaza. It also aims to look into how to integrate space syntax analysis as a tool in the plaza layout design process. This work will be carried out on the analysis and the design proposal of the most frequented public place in Biskra, Algeria, “El-Houria plaza”. The analysis process consists of overlapping space syntax method (Depthmap), behaviour mapping and various qualitative analysis techniques such as questionnaire and mental mapping. The results show that plaza spatial use is highly dependent on visibility and that the accessibility (visual access) and the connectivity to the surrounding are the key parameters to its functioning. The results also indicate that there is a high correlation between the human behaviour and the syntactic properties in selecting places to do definite activities. Furthermore, it is shown how visibility becomes the principal feature in the layout proposal of this plaza.