Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
ABSTRACT: When conventionally produced low-cost housing settlement types are investigated as part of a process aimed at producing new (better) typologies, as for example in housing competitions, the central focus of design tends to be the dwelling units themselves. The spaces that define the relationship between the units (as described generally by the settlement layout) are most often a secondary consideration. This focus on the dwelling unit as primary issue, with a consequent lesser concern for the nature of the linking spaces, is evident in most existing low-cost housing settlements in Port Elizabeth.
Space Syntax theory suggests that the factor which influences the functional performance of any particular space in a spatial system is the relationship of that space to all other spaces in the system and not the physical characteristics of that space itself. Following from this, it is proposed that the functional success of housing settlements rests neither with the design of housing units themselves, nor with the physical character of any spaces in particular. Rather, functional success rests with the way in which all spaces are integrated within the spatial layout of the settlement as a whole, and how the settlement’s spatial structure is integrated within the spatial structure of the surrounding (urban) fabric.
The paper presents the findings of research carried out to investigate the nature of spatial configurations of housing settlements in Port Elizabeth South Africa. The aim ultimately is to speculate whether current configuration typologies used in the design of housing settlements are functionally relevant, appropriate, and generally achieve the spatial qualities aimed for in their designs. The research uses Space Syntax approaches and methods.
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