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

Karen Munro, David Grierson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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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 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
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2016
Event3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities: Following-up the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) - Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, United States
Duration: 14 Sep 201616 Sep 2016


Conference3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities
Abbreviated titleWSSD-U-2016
CountryUnited States
CityCambridge, MA
Internet address


  • biophilia
  • environmental psychology
  • space syntax
  • urbanisation
  • wilderness

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