Although territorial issues are typically not part of space syntax research, territorial issues have always been part of spatial configurations. Already The social logic of space highlights the fundamental differences between the interior and (private) and the exterior (public). This paper expands this straightforward scheme by investigating a very particular territorial phenomenon in urban open space. When territories are contradictory or blurred, an ambiterritory (a no-man’s-land) is created. GIS-analyses show that ambiterritory is mostly found in post-war modernist morphologies.
A theoretical framework defines two types ambiterritory. Goods ambiterritory (Type A) are the mismatch of lived and perceived space in terms of the divergence of private and public territorialities defined by intervisibility and use. Territorial human actions are translated into material actants in space and create disturbed public ambiterritory (A1) and disturbed private ambiterritory (A2). Legal ambiterritory (Type B) appears when use value and property owner do not match. This creates public pseudo-property (B1) and private pseudo-property (B2).
A GIS-study was applied to the framework in ten city districts in Stockholm: three urban grid areas, one postmodern area, three villa areas, and three post-war modernist areas. The results are clear and unambiguous. Post war modernist areas and in-fills create extensive ambiterritory. In the modernist areas, 4-8% of open space (A1), 7-12% of public property (B1), or 14-15% of private property is lost to ambiterritory. These findings where confirmed by interviews with experienced professionals in public open space management. Ambiterritories are hence used by no one, left by management, creating an uncertain void that makes it costly for society.
The framework presented in this paper must be considered as an initial theoretical sketch, far from being complete. There are still many factors left out and uncorrelated. A fundamental difficulty is the limitations in getting quantitative empirical data. Hypotheses and preliminary findings nonetheless indicate that what has been called ambiterritoriality ought to be something worth further investigation and that GIS can be a very useful tool. There is also a need for problematizing the debate on public space and margins. Take for example the concepts so commonly used in urban research and urban design practice “semi private” and “semi public”, which clearly lack distinction. Space syntaxtheory has great potential to put territoriality into new light.
Territoriality, Ambiterritory, Public space, Private property, Urban design, Urban management