Linking space and nature syntaxes: the influence of a natural view through observed behaviour at Arcosanti, Arizona, USA

Karen Munro, David Grierson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The world's urban population is rapidly growing, now exceeding its rural population, and is expected to reach 70% of the world’s total by 2050. Research in environmental psychology increasingly supports the Biophilia Hypothesis which holds that our connection with Nature is innate. Thus, how do we maintain a human connection to Nature in an increasingly urbanising world? The research explores the boundary between built and natural environments, specifically how proximity, initially through visual connections, to Nature affects how people use social spaces. Case study work is being undertaken at Arcosanti urban laboratory in the Arizona desert. Through development of a Space/Nature Syntax methodology applied within a uniquely compact urban form, this research attempts to understand how maintaining an instinctive bond with Nature can enhance social interactions and inform future design choices within built environments. Initial results support relationships of varying strengths between spatial connectivity, visibility of Nature, and types of social interactions. This paper explores the potential of the cross-disciplinary Space/Nature Syntax methodology as a design and analysis tool, projecting where social interactions within a built space could be influenced by visibility of Nature; where informed design can allow for the essential human/Nature connection to thrive.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education
EditorsWalter Leal Filho, Luciana Brandli, Paula Castro, Julia Newman
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9783319478678
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameWorld Sustainability Series
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2199-7373


  • biophilia
  • environmental psychology
  • space syntax
  • urbanisation
  • wilderness
  • design
  • built environment
  • natural environment
  • social spaces
  • nature


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