Axis, Axial, Axiality

Süheyla Müge Halıcı, Leman Figen Gül

Published Feb 11, 2020

Imaginary line dividing forms, spaces with the indication of forces, organization, flow, or movement of inhabitants.

In the Oxford dictionary, the definition of Axis is 1) an imaginary straight line passing through the center of a symmetrical solid, about which a plane figure can be conceived as rotating to generate the solid. 2) An imaginary line that divides something into equal or roughly equal halves, especially in the direction of its greater length (Oxford 2018). Different disciplines as such mathematics, botany, zoology, anatomy define the terms differently.

However, in the field of architecture, axiality is not only form or division of forms related but also the term refers to an imaginary line with a starting and ending point indicating the direction, motion, growth, organization, or extension that would be vertical or horizontal. The use of axis and axiality has been around in the field of architecture since the early times of history (Chitham 2007). In the process of design organization, the architectural axis brings various opportunities for architects (Dinçer 2002). The architectural axis gives a direction, promotes views along its path (Figure 1). In addition, architectural axes can be used to arrange the symmetrical organizations or a dynamic character of the form (Figure 1, 2 & 3). Architectural axes split forms into the zones and refer to the circulation of people (Figure 4). During the design process, architects also benefit from imaginary architectural axes to establish dynamic relationships of forms according to different variables of topography, nature, climate, or related to conceptual decisions (Figure 4).

In addition, an axial line is defined as the longest line that can be drawn through an arbitrary point in the spatial configuration. An axial map represents the minimal set of axial lines (Figure 5). Axial Map, which has been used to analyze the effect of a configuration of space on pedestrian movement in urban areas, traffic flows, crime distribution, land values, and so on, became the foundation of space syntax tools (Turner, et. al 2005). As a theory of space, space syntax is a set of analytical, quantitative, and descriptive tools for analyzing the layout of space in buildings and cities (Hillier, B. & Hanson, J. 1984).


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