The Bartlett School of Architecture


Space Syntax Laboratory Research Seminar: Vinicius M. Netto

05 November 2020, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

Vinicius M. Netto

Vinicius M. Netto, Fluminense Federal University (UFF), discusses entropy in the built form.

Event Information

Open to





Sepehr Zhand

This event will take place on Zoom.

Built form: entropy and segregation


Can the information encoded in physical spaces tell us something about society? Vinicius and colleagues have been looking into how information is embodied in tangible components of urban space: the arrangement of buildings. They do so by exploring levels of order and entropy in cells of built form. Their method counts the frequencies of combinations of cells, and we look into these frequencies as potential’ information signatures’ of urban areas and cities. This approach allows him to explore how different cultures invest order in their built environment. For instance, they can see that the information signature of a systemic, top-down planning culture is different from that of a culture based on ‘piecemeal planning’ applied to individual buildings and areas. They apply this method to 45 cities from different regions of the world to test what they call “the cultural hypothesis”: the possibility that different cultures find specific ways of ordering space.

This approach can also tell us something about other forms of spatial information, related to codes of interaction between socially different people — say, how social distance might be encoded in the very configuration of built form. Information about where you are likely to live and who you are likely to see might be encoded in the tangible spaces around you. Vinicius will investigate whether levels of entropy in built form have to do with residential segregation — say, higher entropy in socially homogeneous areas — and a highly dynamic form of segregation in networks of movement in the emblematic cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil. 

Speaker biography

Vinicius M. Netto is the director of the Graduate Programme in Architecture and Urbanism, Fluminense Federal University (UFF), Rio de Janeiro state. He holds a PhD in Advanced Architectural Studies from The Bartlett. Recently he has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP NYU, 2019-2020). He has authored The Social Fabric of Cities (Routledge, 2017) and over 90 articles and chapters, as well as being guest speaker at The MIT City Science Summit, City Science Network and University of Guadalajara. He was also the keynote speaker at the 12th International Space Syntax Symposium 2019; Editor of Area Development and Policy (ADP), a journal of the Regional Studies Association (RSA, UK); guest Editor for 'Entropy', September 2019; and guest Editor for 'Journal of Space Syntax.'

Vinicius’s work is centred on cities as networks of information, cooperation and segregation.

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: Vinicius M. Netto