Organized complexity of the urban object


  • Mark David Major Qatar University

    Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Qatar University in Doha. He has three decades of experience in architecture, urban design and planning, real estate development, and business in Europe, United States, and the Middle East. Mark is the recognized Founder of International Space Syntax Symposia and the leading American expert on space syntax. He is the author of The Syntax of City Space: American Urban Grids (2018, Routledge Books) and the Poor Richard series (Forum Books, 2012, 2014, and 2017) of almanacs for architects and planners.

  • Raya M. Atour Qatar University

    Raya Atour is an architectural engineer and a current master’s student in Urban Design and Planning at Qatar University. She has graduated with a BSc in Architectural Engineering from the University of Sharjah in 2020 and was a previous student at the IMS Bauhaus institute in Dessau, Germany. She has maintained her education in different places including Jordan, UAE, Germany, and Qatar, which broadened her research interests. She is the second-place recipient of the UOS Innovation Week Competition held in Expo Sharjah 2017. With a professional experience in the UAE, she has initiated and worked on an architectural project at the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences, and Technology, where she worked as a project leader and research assistant. Her recent activity includes writing various articles online and an interest in academic writing and conference participation. Her research interests include sustainable development, architectural theory, sociological research, and interdisciplinary research. 

  • Heba O. Tannous Qatar University

    Heba O. Tannous is a Research Associate in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Engineering, at Qatar University in Doha. She is a lecturer at Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Arts. She holds a Master of Science in Urban Design and Planning from Qatar University and a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design from Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus. Palestinian-born and raised in Jerusalem, she won Third Prize in the RIBA Cityscape Intelligence Sketchbook-Culturally Significant Vernacular Architecture in the Gulf competition in 2020. Heba is co-author on several papers including “Urban Transformations: From restricted random aggregation to designed cultural intent in Middle Eastern cities” presented at the 12th International Space Syntax Symposium in Beijing, China. Her recent activities include the participation in Urban Thinkers Campus Conference with the UN Habitat and ISOCARP, and MENA SS webinars with research topics not limited to green urbanism, traditional souqs, accessibility, and urban morphology. 




cities, resilience, scientific method, space syntax, urban


Over a half-century, space syntax has proven resilient as a theory and method for describing and analyzing the built environment from dwellings and complex buildings to cities. The paper briefly discusses resilience as a concept in the built environment and the foundations of space syntax itself. We summarize the body of the theoretical thinking in space syntax – laws of the urban object, generic function, principles of centrality and linearity, the design method of spatio-formal processes, and laws of spatial emergence-convergence – before offering a new hypothesis about laws of spatial conservation and spatial optimization at work in the built environment. The latter builds on Conroy-Dalton’s (2001) ideas about angularity and the conservation of linearity in movement. Both could provide an essential bridge with Carvalho and Penn’s (2004) concept of self-similarity in settlements, which relates to Batty and Longley’s (1994) notions of fractal cities. We argue the hypothesis of conservation-optimization defines the conceptual framework for the progressive and regressive practice of urban planning in settlements. We illustrate this theoretical discussion by demonstrating the resilience or replication of previous space syntax findings, and by drawing on new research about the history, spatial structure, and neighborhood logic of Metropolitan Doha.



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How to Cite

Major, M. D., Atour, R. M., & Tannous, H. O. (2021). Organized complexity of the urban object. Journal of Design for Resilience in Architecture and Planning, 2((Special Issue), 01–17.



Space Syntax

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