Defining and Generating Axial Lines from Street Center Lines for better Understanding of Urban Morphologies

by   Xintao Liu, et al.

Axial lines are defined as the longest visibility lines for representing individual linear spaces in urban environments. The least number of axial lines that cover the free space of an urban environment or the space between buildings constitute what is often called an axial map. This is a fundamental tool in space syntax, a theory developed by Bill Hillier and his colleagues for characterizing the underlying urban morphologies. For a long time, generating axial lines with help of some graphic software has been a tedious manual process that is criticized for being time consuming, subjective, or even arbitrary. In this paper, we redefine axial lines as the least number of individual straight line segments mutually intersected along natural streets that are generated from street center lines using the Gestalt principle of good continuity. Based on this new definition, we develop an automatic solution to generating the newly defined axial lines from street center lines. We apply this solution to six typical street networks (three from North America and three from Europe), and generate a new set of axial lines for analyzing the urban morphologies. Through a comparison study between the new axial lines and the conventional or old axial lines, and between the new axial lines and natural streets, we demonstrate with empirical evidence that the newly defined axial lines are a better alternative in capturing the underlying urban structure. Keywords: Space syntax, street networks, topological analysis, traffic, head/tail division rule



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