Raman, S., & Dempsey, N.
Raman, S., & Dempsey, N. (2012). Cultural diversity and spatial structure in the Indian urban context. Journal of Urban Design, 17(3), 425–447.
Cities around the world have marked differences in spatial form and structure. To some extent this can be attributed to cultural differences. However, the impact spatial form has on the interactions within and between residents of different neighbourhoods is unclear. This paper calls on empirical evidence collected in the Walled City of Ahmedabad, India, home to Hindu and Muslim residents in distinct neighbourhoods for centuries. Employing Space Syntax method, this paper reveals significant differences in how public spaces are spatially laid out by these two communities. Muslim neighbourhoods have a spatial structure typical of a naturally evolved settlement, where the most integrated spaces are clustered centrally. In contrast, Hindu neighbourhoods have an ‘inside-out’ pattern, with the most integrated spaces located at the neighbourhood edge. The cultural significance of these distinct forms is discussed alongside the relationship between the neighbourhoods and the rest of the city. These findings on spatial structure could have an important role in Ahmedabad’s urban planning . A better understanding of how public space relates to lifestyle and culture could contribute to improved community relations. It could also contribute to dealing successfully with communal conflict, economic development, social sustainability as part of Ahmedabad’s future urban planning strategies.
This paper reveals significant differences in how public spaces are spatially laid in Muslim and Hindu communities related to spatial form and structure such as the strategic location of the communities, settlement patterns, permeability, and integration/isolation from the city. The study found that Muslim neighborhoods have a spatial structure typical of a naturally evolved settlement, where the most integrated public spaces are clustered centrally. In contrast, Hindu neighborhoods have an ‘inside-out’ pattern, with the most integrated public spaces located at the neighborhood edge. These spatial distinctions are traced to historic and cultural differences and contribute to the tension and separation between the neighboring communities.
Description of method used in the article
Space syntax uses graph theory, network analysis methods, and topological representation techniques to analyze spatial configuration and its network properties. The map thus produced is called an ‘axial map’, which can be processed using a variety of computer tools specifically developed to analyze axial maps (e.g Axman®, Depthmap® etc).