Architecture is a multi-faceted profession. Whenever mentioned, it is just not related to the basic understanding of architecture. Under the arc of architecture, many avenues need consideration. A rudimentary and generic instinct after looking at a building, the visual features are often talked about the most. Architecture is not restricted only to the appearance of a structure there exists underlying ideas, concepts, reasonings, and planning and social aspect to it than what meets the eye. One of these factors is spatial quality, which is important in all elements of architecture.

Book in focus: The Social Logic of Space by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson - Sheet1
The Social Logic of Space _©

About The Book

Coherently, the visual appearances are easy to talk about and can be relatable to everyone as it is easy to comprehend. Although, the most far-reaching practical effects are not at the level of visual styles or on the level of space. Making space is the origin of how it progresses further; the visual styles and the aesthetics come at a much later stage. The initial step is the space itself, its interrelation with the behavioral pattern of the people, their social contribution to it, and ultimately how people would respond to that space. 

We often question whether any space can showcase the information of the intent behind that space. The answer to that one question lies in this book. This book is a blend of architecture and analysis. Under this analysis, social communication through space is addressed. A theory is introduced in this book, that also incorporates an approach to spatial planning. The inference of these theories and spatial analysis culminated from the scrutiny of many case studies. These case studies demonstrate the social logic of settlements, housing, and complex buildings together with the social logic of space.

The human mind is acquainted with understanding things in relational terms. For example: In architectural expression, a pocket park designed in a densely populated cluster of buildings mind relates it to a space where people can find solace, this contributes to the well-being of the people in that vicinity. A green oasis amidst the vertical concrete. This space can be abstractly described but can not be in analytical language. The authors have tried to explain the analytical relations of spaces which are seen and understood to a basic extent. Similarly, space with the most fundamental properties that show relational systems is much easier to use than to talk about analytically. 

Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson have explained space as an entity that impacts people in a way that goes unnoticed diurnally. To elucidate, take a simple square as an example, a space is unconfined to the insides of a square, and also to the outsides. The moment there is segregation by a line, it gives dimensions to both parties. When this square is replicated by numerous, each with a distinct size and organized in a particular manner, a collection of squares is produced. This cluster defines a boundary, thus making the entire cluster look like a settlement. 

In this example, compared to a settlement the inside and outside spaces have different meanings, social dynamics, and reasons for existing. The analysis of the settlement explained in the book is based on a method of scrutiny of settlement forms using generic syntax to establish the description of spatial order and concepts dealing with the type and quantity of space invested in those relations.

Book in focus: The Social Logic of Space by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson - Sheet1
Settlement Analysis_©The Social logic of space

It is a prevalent belief that habitual behavioral patterns that adapt to the dimension of the environment constituted the core of a human spatial organization. This claim states that although these patterns would alter a space, the impact on individuals would differ in magnitude. But, if this assumption were to be true, the spaces would result to be monotonous and repetitive. In reality, as the spatial order goes from the settlement, cluster, building, and then to a unit the context keeps transposing. The settlement indicates the relations connecting the outsides of the boundaries following a property entirely. These relations are understood when one articulates across it, the settlement forms a structure on a larger scale that is, on a global system. Insomuch as the spaces inside the boundaries have contrasting properties. 

The settlement and the units don’t need to have a similar property. The boundary that builds a settlement as a continuous spatial system concerning the outsides creates a set of discontinuous spaces on the insides. The very nature of the boundary is to create a disconnection between interior space and the global system around it, of which it would otherwise be a part.

The book aims to form a theory of contemporary space that is related to basic differences in social formations. The principal aim is not to establish a definitive account, but to provide a coherent model for linking together and making sense of the ‘obvious’ phenomena of contemporary space, phenomena which are generally given a simple functionalist or economic explanation.


This book explains an aspect discarded easily while the designing process is, the social logic of space. Architects can refer to this book to gain a perspective to understand the analytical language of space and its working concerning social logic. The book consists of analytical deductions and findings based on existing projects which would help gain perspective on the book’s objective. Lastly, spaces cannot be designed sidelining the social impact it creates on people. People define the space, the outside, and the inside equally.


Hillier, B. and Hanson, J. (2005) The Social Logic of Space. Cambridge, UK, new york: Cambridge University Press. 


Nirantari is an Architecture student, with an interest in Art and Architecture. She believes that art, architecture, and people have a peculiar relation and is trying to put that in words.