Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, 24th ISUF 2017 - City and Territory in the Globalization Age

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Spatial distribution of economic activities in heritage cities: The case of the historic city of Toledo, Spain.
Borja Ruiz-Apilánez, Eloy Solís, Vicente Romero de Ávila, Carmen Alía, Irene García-Camacha, Raúl Martín

Last modified: 17-05-2018


Spatial distribution of economic activities in heritage cities: The case of the historic city of Toledo, Spain.

Borja Ruiz-Apilánez¹, Eloy Solís¹, Vicente Romero de Ávila², Carmen Alía¹

¹Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Escuela de Arquitectura. Avda. Carlos III, s/n ES-45071 Toledo ²Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha. Escuela de Ingenieros de Caminos. Avda. Camilo José Cela, s/n ES-19071 Ciudad Real
E-mail: borja.ruizapilanez@uclm.es, eloy.solis@uclm.es, vicente.romeroavila@uclm.es, carmen.alia@alu.uclm.es

Keywords (3-5): Urban Economics, Space Syntax, Heritage Cities, Spain

Conference topics and scale: Urban form and social use of space

Previous studies have shown: (a) that Space Syntax theories and tools can be helpful to explain pedestrian flows and the spatial distribution of economic activities in cities and other human settlements (Chiaradia et al., 2009; Perdikogianni, 2003; Vaughan et al., 2013), and (b) that the economy of many heritage cities highly depends on tourism (Ashworth and Tunbridge, 2000; Kemperman et al., 2009).

Assuming that, in this particular type of human settlements, heritage buildings such as the cathedral, the town hall, and other similar constructions operate as tourist attractors, this research investigates to what extent the location of these buildings, together with the two main syntactic properties of the elements of the street network—integration and choice—can describe the spatial distribution of economic activities in touristic heritage cities, using the UNESCO Heritage site of Toledo, Spain, as case study.

In order to investigate this question, each segment of the street network has been characterized with four main values: (1) economic activity, (2) spatial integration, (3) spatial choice, and (4) heritage intensity. The first value, economic activity, represents the presence or absence of economic activity in the buildings that are accessible through each corresponding street segment. The second value, spatial integration, accounts for the integration values that each segment has at two different scales—the neighborhood and the whole city. The third value, spatial choice, considers the choice values that each segment has, again, at these two scales. The fourth value, heritage intensity, reflects the proximity of listed building to each individual street segment.

Street audits were used to record the economic activities taking place in the ground floors and upper floors of the buildings within the historic city. Space Syntax analysis was used to determine the different integration and choice values for each street segment; and GIS tools were used to establish their heritage intensity. Afterwards, statistical analysis was employed to investigate the relationships among these four variables, showing how the distribution of economic activity in the street network of the historic city of Toledo can be well explained by the other three variables—spatial integration, spatial choice and heritage intensity.


Ashworth, G.J., Tunbridge, J.E. (2000) The Tourist-historic City: Retrospect and Prospect of Managing the Heritage City. Routledge.

Chiaradia, A., Hillier, B., Schwander, C., Wedderburn, M. (2009) ‘Spatial Centrality , Economic Vitality / Viability. Compositional and Spatial Effects in Greater London’, in Proceedings of the 7th International Space Syntax Symposium. 1–19.

Kemperman, A.D.A.M., Borgers, A.W.J., Timmermans, H.J.P. (2009) ‘Tourist shopping behavior in a historic downtown area’. Tourism Manaement. 30, 208–218.

Perdikogianni, I. (2003) ‘Heraklion and Chania: A study of the evolution of their spatial and functional patterns’, in 4th International Space Syntax Symposium. London, p. 19.1-19.20.

Vaughan, L., Dhanani, A., Griffiths, S. (2013) ‘Beyond the suburban high street cliché - A study of adaptation to change in London’s street network: 1880-2013’. Journal of Space  Syntax 4.


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