This paper examines the relationship between ethnic residential segregation and two components of the built environment: the geographic distribution of its elements and their spatial configuration (i.e., the spatial relations and visual access between those elements). This relationship is investigated through a case study of Arab-Jewish residential segregation in Jaffa. Statistical and structural analyses (Q-analysis) of this case show that the conjunction of elements having different meanings (symbolic, cultural, functional, etc.) with spatial and visual integration attributes provides varying conditions for the expansion of the Arab Jewish residential patterns, a process potentially affecting the geographic scale intensity of residential segregation. It was found, for example, that public land uses having relatively 'neutral' ethnic and symbolic meanings (e.g. commercial sites and parks) and spatially integrated with the surrounding urban environment tend to moderate residential segregation. Identification of the institutional character of the built environment—segregation/encounters in mixed ethnic areas—may contribute to a more socially oriented spatial policy.