The spatial analysis of past built environments: call for papers

from my inbox:


Dear All,
We would like to let you know about an interdisciplinary and international
workshop on spatial analysis of past built spaces that will take place in
Berlin on the 1st and 2nd of April 2010 (please see details below). Our
two-day workshop aims to promote discussion between a range of researchers in the disciplines of history/archaeology, urbanism, architecture, and computer science who have an interest in the spatial analysis of the built environment, and especially of historic and prehistoric spaces.

A number of very interesting speakers will be participating, and we would
be happy to consider a few more paper abstracts from colleagues willing to
share their views on a topic relevant to the aims of the workshop. Some of
the discussants and speakers will be:

Prof. Bill Hillier (keynote speaker-The Bartlett School of Architecture,
University College London)
Dr David Wheatley (University of Southampton)
Dr Graeme Earl (University of Southampton)
Hannah Stoeger (University of Leiden)
Prof. John Bintliff (University of Leiden)
Dr. Akkelies van Nes (Delft university of Technology)
Piraye Haciguzeller (Université catholique de Louvain)
Dr Quentin Letesson (Université catholique de Louvain)
Ulrich Thaler (German Archaeological Institute Athens)
Dr. Eleftheria Paliou (Topoi Excellence Cluster)

If you are interested in participating please send us your abstracts
(30min for presentation +questions) at by the
20th of January 2010.

All the best,
The organisers
Eleftheria Paliou
Undine Lieberwirth
Silvia Polla

Interdisciplinary and international workshop on spatial analysis in past
built environments

The Area A-III (Archaeoinformatics) of Topoi Excellence Cluster, is
organising a two-day workshop on “Spatial analysis of past built spaces”.
The workshop is scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of April 2010, at the Topoi
building, Free University, Berlin. The two-day workshop aims to promote
discussion among a range of researchers in the disciplines of, history/archaeology, urbanism, architecture, and computer science who have an interest in the formal spatial analysis of past built environments. A
summary of the workshop can be found below. More information about the
Topoi Excellence Cluster can be found at:

The workshop is funded by the Topoi Excellence Cluster and there are no
registration fees.

Summary of the workshop:
Within archaeology, computer-based spatial analysis (for example,
GIS-based analysis) has been widely applied to the investigation of
historic and prehistoric space, both domestic and ritual. Typically,
however, the focus has been on larger spatial scales (‘landscapes’) rather
than urban spaces and buildings. More recently, a range of formal spatial
analytical methods have begun to be developed for the study of human
engagement, experience and socialisation within the built environment.
Many, although not all, of these emanate from the fields of architectural
and urban studies. Methodologies whose origins lie in Hillier and Hanson’s
Space Syntax, and in formal methods developed in the field of urban
studies (using, for example, axial and visibility graph analysis, are now gaining in popularity among researchers of historic and prehistoric urban environments; concepts such as visibility, movement, and accessibility within urban spaces have been given increasingly more weight in contemporary studies of built spaces
dated in a variety of periods, such as the Aegean Bronze Age, Iron Age,
Roman period, Byzantine and Medieval Eras. The application of these new
methods within the realms of history and archaeology therefore appears
promising. Archaeological and historical research would clearly have a lot
to gain from theoretical and methodological frameworks that aim to
investigate human-environment relationships and social aspects of built
space. Equally, archaeological and historical approaches may have a
distinct contribution to make to contemporary architectural theory and
urban design concepts. An interdisciplinary meeting that brings together a
variety of researchers including archaeologists, architects, urban
planners and computer scientists to discuss common areas of interest
could, therefore, encourage new directions of research in the study of
built environment.

Presentations and discussion will take place mainly at the first day of
the workshop. The program will be arranged so that around two-thirds of
time will be dedicated to pre-prepared material, and one third for open
discussion. The invited participants will be asked to make a presentation
on spatial analysis methods that are applicable in past built
environments, such as access analysis, visibility graph analysis, isovist
analysis, agent-based models of pedestrian movement, 3D visibility
approaches. These topics raise questions which would benefit greatly from
a collaborative framework of specialists. These include:

How can spatial analysis facilitate a better understanding of human
engagement, experience and socialization in prehistoric and historic

Can methodologies developed for the investigation of contemporary
environments be successfully applied in historical and archaeological
datasets? What are the limitations? Which research directions have greater
potential to prove fruitful in future research on historic and prehistoric
built spaces?

What, if anything, can archaeological and historical perspectives
contribute to research into contemporary architectural and urban studies?

Are there any human behavioral processes in the built environment that are
common to modern, historic and prehistoric people?

The second day will be partly dedicated to a series of ‘show and tell’
demonstrations of software and analytical methods. An open forum will be
organised, with both presentation and computational facilities available
to those that are interested in participating to this event. Researchers
will be able to demonstrate software, data sets or tools, to run ‘hands
on’ demonstrations and discussions about spatial analysis in built spaces.


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