To integrate or not to integrate? A matter of choice for universities


  • Luísa Cannas da Silva CiTUA - Instituto Superior Técnico - Universidade de Lisboa

    Luísa Cannas da Silva is a licensed architect and holds a PhD in architecture. Her research interests include learning spaces and workspaces with a particular focus on space use analysis, mainly recurring to space syntax methodologies. She is a science communicator who has designed science exhibitions and learning materials, both in university and museum contexts. She currently works as a Learning and Experience Designer for Executive Education at Nova School of Business and Economics.

  • Teresa Valsassina Heitor CiTUA - Instituto Superior Técnico - Universidade de Lisboa

    Teresa V. Heitor is Full Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering , Architecture and Georesources at IST University of Lisbon since 2008. She was the director of the 5-year Master program in Architecture beteween 1999-2004; 2005-2007 and 2009-2016. She is Principal researcher of the Center of Innovation of Territory, Urbanism and Architecture (CiTUA), a research unit funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). Within CiTUA, she coordinates a research line on Knowledge Environments, with a prime focus on educational facilities and innovative learning environments. Research emphasis is placed on the development of: 1) models of form and function capable to predict the implications of new educational demands; 2) self-assessment tools to be applied along educational building process (programming, design & occupancy stages). An emphasis is also put on advanced training of young researchers, strengthening international networking, participating in joint international and national research projects and keep publishing research results.



university campus, integration, choice, centrality, university synergies


What is the right location for a university campus? Universities have a preponderant role in today’s societal models. They have been in the core of development — economic, social, sustainable, inter alia — and their role within urban context has changed in order to respond to the university mission — that nowadays includes of civic engagement as well as a stronger participation in economies, through the development of startups and innovation ecosystems. This paper relies on the premise that, even in a post-pandemic world, the Campus is still a window to the world, it can shape the perception people have of the University, can be used as a branding asset and, most of all, impacts the lives of everyone living, learning, and working there. The Campus is a very powerful tool, one that universities worldwide have been using as a way of positioning themselves, of attracting students and faculty, and also creating synergies and relationships with companies. It shapes the relationships created inside and outside of it. As such, this research argues that universities can be key elements in generating and enabling dynamic synergies, promoting the presence of students, academics, and learning spaces in urban contexts. To accomplish this, universities should preserve their spatial identity and uniqueness, while guaranteeing the existence of adequate places for all learning related activities and embodying inclusion and sustainable development, promoting encounters and interaction. These two needs, for inclusion and livelihood while safeguarding some privacy coexist creating some tension for all campus users. With this issue in mind, this paper explores an analytical framework for university campuses within urban fabrics, understanding the different types of urban insertion and connections established with local and regional players, and exploring the dichotomy between closeness centrality and betweenness centrality, as variables than can be used to balance the tension between integration and privacy that affects university campuses and academic communities worldwide. Four compact university campuses that host similar functions are used to test the methodology: Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada; Aalto University in Espoo, Finland; MIT in Cambridge, MA, USA; and Yale University, in New Haven, USA. This paper relies on syntactic analysis to provide deeper information and some clarification on the university location and accessibility within the urban fabrics.


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How to Cite

Cannas da Silva, L., & Valsassina Heitor, T. (2021). To integrate or not to integrate? A matter of choice for universities. Journal of Design for Resilience in Architecture and Planning, 2((Special Issue), 74–88.



Space Syntax