There’s a Science to Foot Traffic, and It Can Help Us Design Better Cities

China has in the past 30 years become the most urbanized country that has ever existed. More than 450 million Chinese — 1 in 25 people on the planet – live in cities. At least 160 Chinese cities have more than 1 million people, compared to nine in the United States. In a decade, the Chinese government plans to resettle 250 million people into new or existing urban areas. To some westerners, those are scary numbers. To an urban planner, they signal unprecedented opportunity. “If you consider where and how urbanization is happening in the world, the single biggest place is China,” said Tim Stonor, the CEO of Space Syntax, Ltd , which guides architects and urban planners on the science of building cities. It opened an office in Beijing in November, hoping to use history’s largest urban migration as a stage for its unconventional approach to designing cities. Before there was Space Syntax the multinational company, there was space syntax, the science of how cities work. In the late 1970s, British architects Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson hit on the idea that any space within a city – or the entire city itself – could be analyzed in terms of connectivity and movement. They reasoned that a city’s success depended largely on how easy it was for people to move about on foot. read the fulla article: