2001 volume 28(1) pages 103 – 121
doi:10.1068/b2684

Cite as:
Turner A, Doxa M, O'Sullivan D, Penn A, 2001, "From isovists to visibility graphs: a methodology for the analysis of architectural space" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 28(1) 103 – 121

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From isovists to visibility graphs: a methodology for the analysis of architectural space

Alasdair Turner, Maria Doxa, David O'Sullivan, Alan Penn

Received 15 November 1999; in revised form 19 February 2000

Abstract. An isovist, or viewshed, is the area in a spatial environment directly visible from a location within the space. Here we show how a set of isovists can be used to generate a graph of mutual visibility between locations. We demonstrate that this graph can also be constructed without reference to isovists and that we are in fact invoking the more general concept of a visibility graph. Using the visibility graph, we can extend both isovist and current graph-based analyses of architectural space to form a new methodology for the investigation of configurational relationships. The measurement of local and global characteristics of the graph, for each vertex or for the system as a whole, is of interest from an architectural perspective, allowing us to describe a configuration with reference to accessibility and visibility, to compare from location to location within a system, and to compare systems with different geometries. Finally we show that visibility graph properties may be closely related to manifestations of spatial perception, such as way-finding, movement, and space use.

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