Examining the evacuation in shopping malls through space syntax methodology

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Istanbul Technical University, Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Architecture, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Thesis Language: Turkish

Student: Sefa Aydemir

Supervisor: Mehmet Emin Şalgamcıoğlu


As stated in the definitions of architecture; architecture is the art of structure and designing the space. People need spaces for accommodation and for all other basic needs in their daily lives. In this context, these spaces need to provide all functional and conceptual requirements. However, unusual conditions are frequently encountered for spaces. Each structure from the smallest scale to the largest scale has a risk of crisis and emergency, and crises and emergencies that have been quite confronted lately cannot be ignored during the formation of the space. With many legislative arrangements today, these emergency and crisis processes are being integrated into the architectural design. Space configuration, organization and programming in that sense is very important in such extraordinary cases, because people's perception and consciousness in the moments of crisis and emergency are quite different. The concept that best describes this is panic and this is an indispensable context for architectural design. The state of emergency is a state of great astonishment, turmoil, and confusion that has arisen in extraordinary circumstances among individuals and societies. State of emergency is a dangerous case for societies and individuals because people in emergency cannot be organized, they cannot act rationally and have difficulty in preventing the state of panic. Emergency cases are the most important factors that lead to social panic. Emergency case is defined as "unexpected and unforeseen events" in the literature, which can be expressed as a whole that is unpredictable, instantly generated with a need of rapid intervention (Yılmaz, 2003). Within this context, emergencies are the situations that need to be managed and many measures need to be taken to manage these situations. When we examine the emergencies in Turkey, it is concluded that the most common and tragic events happen as a result of fire. When the state of panic during the fire is examined, the risk increases if the fire area is crowded. The most important item during the management of emergencies is the fire evacuation. When we examine the evacuation within the architectural context, we see that the way in which spaces come together, the relations and the spatial organization are important in the process of individual acquiring knowledge from the environment. The way in which spaces come together influences cognitive and perceptual processes and navigation. "Navigation" was first used by Kevin Lynch (1960) and is defined as the arrangement of sensory data around. The image in environment is strategically important for navigation. Individuals imagine the external world on their minds. These images are generated by blending the sensory perception and past experience, which results in action. The evacuation, which is a problem of navigation, is also affected by the spatial organization and the spatial organization type also influences the evacuation ability. The physical space causes a functional and social influence. The arrangement of relations, which we may also call the order of spaces also affects the order and interaction between person-space, person-person relations. The space in relation with the built environment establishes perceptual barriers, creating an artificial environment, and the primary relation of people with the environment is formed and observed through the perception of space. In a sense, spaces become a part of the whole that is including the person, environment and the interaction between the person and the environment. It exists when there is a balance between the one who is perceiving and what is being perceived in the context of perception. This balance is provided by the characteristics of the space and by the perception and reflection of the relationships formed by these characteristics. Environmental images are the result of a two-way process between the observer and the environment. The environment reveals the distinctiveness, the observer also chooses what they see, organizes and relates those to a meaning (Lynch, 1960). In addition, the complexity of the space is also very important during an emergency. Models presented about environment, environmental image, representation, cognitive map (mental representation), learning, recall, cognitive distance and directional concepts explain how environmental data is transformed into concepts within the mind. These concepts are the expression of navigation and orientation in the real environment and the representative environment which is established in mind. Cognitive process cycle explains abstract concepts affecting way finding (Çağın, 1988). In this context, as the complexity of the space increases, way finding becomes more difficult in terms of orientation and vulnerability during the emergency cases are increased. The circulation performance of these constructions indicates that it directly affects the evacuation. Due to the individual and social needs of today, many complex structure typologies have emerged. Hospitals, airports, shopping malls are some examples of complex buildings. When we examine the fire cases in the past, and the different functions of the buildings in relation with the consideration of interviews that are made with the fire consultants, the shopping malls are the type of buildings that have a great risk of fire. Losses of life and property also indicate that emergency situations in shopping malls is a severe problem. Concept of shopping, with consumer behavior, included and in which a specific space is conceived based on these behaviors can be considered as an economic action based solely on purchasing in order to fulfill human needs. It is also possible to think of various sensory factors that affect the spatial organization of consumer behaviors with the influence of psychological and sociological factors such as leisure time, personal pleasure, social class anxiety besides the basic necessities of shopping for consumers. In this sense, the shopping malls change and develop with the evolution of the shopping activity, but this development has made the type of the building more complicated and has caused different problems in accordance with new needs. In shopping malls, which have many different configurations and functions even within themselves, spatial and behavioral parameters are very important both in terms of architectural features and social characteristics. In this context, the number buildings with a large number of users increasing, and the relations that are complicated in relation of the spaces are important. Shopping malls with many different types of users and actions should be considered in case of emergency and panic, but the complex structure makes it difficult to analyze the structure itself. In this respect, studying shopping malls through space syntax theory has helped very much to analyze the configuration of spaces in shopping malls. Space Syntax can also be defined as the representation of the physical patterns of the spatial structure and is a method that relates physical configuration to the social order of the space. Space Syntax focuses on external features such as their connections, their location in the whole, their relation to all spaces within the system, rather than their internal features such as shape, scale and texture in the process of making the properties of structures transparent (Hillier, 1984). This theory, which is based on graphics in general, consists of nodes, lines and corners. Nodes represent connections between locations, and each line represents links between two node points. The areas of these node points, the lengths or the orientations of the lines do not matter. All the lines in the graphics are considered as two ways (Peponis and Wineman, 2002). In this context, it is very important in terms of shopping mall design and emergency impactiveness to investigate the emergency situation in the shopping mall with the Space syntax method and the relation of the structure configurations with the social welfare, in addition to the legal regulations available for emergency situation. The task of the shopping malls in society is no longer a place where people only shop. Today, many activities are organized in shopping malls and people fulfill their entertainment needs in this spatial context. One may say that shopping malls include various space characteristics in relation with the personality and status of the people that all affect the space-behavior relationship. In order to measure the emergency vulnerability value of the shopping malls, both architectural and social data are required, and data of different types to be collected will increase the accuracy of the study. In this context, considering the past studies on different shopping malls, three shopping malls were selected for studying where behavioral relations can be observed significantly, considering the road and neighborhood relations in relation with the context of shopping mall schemes and inputs. Akasya Shopping Mall on main highway of Istanbul and single entrance, Istinye Park Shopping Mall with the main road side and single entrance and Akmerkez Shopping Mall with 4 main entrances and with the location in the middle of the neighborhood are the selected sites. In order to examine the circulation, the entrance floors where the main entrance of the shopping malls are located have been examined. In the methodology developed to study the emergency vulnerability through shopping malls, the circulation areas of the shopping malls are divided into convex spaces in order to understand the spatial relations better and evaluating them in accordance with the space syntax methodology. The transition points between the convex spaces and the evacuation nodes are also determined. Three types of analyzes have been performed over the determined convex spaces and nodes. Each the analysis provides different type of value of evacutaion vulnerability. First of these analysis provides to examine circulation performance of evacuation and it is the first value of emergency vulnerability. An algorithm has been set up with vulnerability of crowd, the shortest distance to evacuation nodes and decision making on the escape route. Second value of emergency of vulnerability occurs from space syntax analysis on convex spaces as integration, isovist area and circularity values. Space Syntax analysis on the evacuation nodes provide the last value of emergency vulnerability which are integratin and isovist area values. These three type of value provide an algorithm provide examining performance of shopping malls' evacuation. The results of these analyzes indicate that there is no link between the overall circulation performance; and the emergency circulation performance and the circulation of the shopping malls is discussed through the emergency algorithm. The study can be extended in different types and variations when the necessary theoretical and practical infrastructure is provided.