The social effects of architecture


Vinicius M. Netto [Urban Studies, UFF]

Julio C. Vargas [Transport systems, UFRGS]

Renato T. Saboya [Planning, Urban Studies, UFSC]



Architectural types and block arrangements and their resulting neighbourhoods


One of the most emphasised – and least closely examined – notions in urban design and theory is the role of architectural form in the social life of public spaces and in the vitality of neighbourhoods. Can architecture really affect its urban surroundings? Could different architectural forms have different effects on what occurs in public spaces? This research introduces an approach that attempts to grasp traces of the elusive effects of built form and distinguish them from other urban forces at play, as a way of verifying their existence and extent.



Randomly selected areas in Rio de Janeiro, with three accessibility levels: high (red), medium (blue) and low (green)


It explores the possibility of identifying causal relationships, and develops the foundations of a probabilistic theory of the social effects of architecture, in an effort to find a more precise answer to a leading question in the ‘urban imagination’: how important is architecture for urban and social life?


Regression analysis: the right-hand spatial factors show positive behaviour in relation to pedestrian movement. The length of lines for each factor shows their level of importance.


The approach to the effects of architectural types may be found in Chapter 7 “The Social Effects of Architecture” and Chapter 8 “The city as result: Unintended consequences of architectural choices” in The Social Fabric of Cities, and in the following works:

The city as result: Unintended consequences of architectural choices

The convergence of patterns in the city: The effects of architectural morphology


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