The Bartlett School of Architecture


Space Syntax Laboratory Research Seminar: Alice Vialard

19 November 2020, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

Image by Dr Alice Vialard

Dr Alice Vialard, Northumbria University, examines the motor aspect of exploration and decision-making in navigating urban maps.

Event Information

Open to





Sepehr Zhand

This event will take place on Zoom.

Cognitive Morphology and Syntax of Urban Areas


This research brings together the cognitive mechanisms that underlie the process of exploration and decision-making when navigating urban maps with their syntactic and morphological properties. It examines the motor aspect of decision-making during the navigation process. Motor reactions are recorded using technology developed for the quantification of neuromotor impairments. The project involves academics from different fields (computation, cognition, neuroscience, urban planning) as well as the company developing the technology. 

It provides a mean to classify urban environments according to their level of intelligibility. The intelligibility in this research stems from the ease of navigation towards the center of an urban environment (accessibility) and the ease of traversing it.
It is currently used to assess:
1.    the impact of 19th century interventions on French cities 
2.    the intelligibility of informal settlements in Cairo 
3.    the planning of internal structure of Superblocks. 

Future applications involve patients with dementia and how they navigate environments. 


Alice Vialard is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University. Her main research builds upon her dissertation “A typology of block-face” (Georgia Tech, 2013) which is at the intersection of the field of space syntax and urban morphology, using quantitative analysis. Her interest is in the relationship between building and urban scales, and how the interface between the two is mediated and expressed in the frontage. More recently, she has been looking at cognitive mechanisms in relation to the intelligibility of urban environments. 

About this series 

This academic seminar series features researchers sharing their findings, discussing their ideas and showing work in progress from The Bartlett's internationally renowned Space Syntax Laboratory. Seminars are moderated by PhD candidate Sepehr Zhand. They are open to the public and attended by Bartlett’s staff and students.

Image: Alice Vialard