This is How You Measure the Depth of Your Rooms

Usually, when you discuss about the size (metrics) of the room in a house, you will only consider the extent and height of the room as the most easily understood concept. But don’t you know that there is a metric developed by one Western scientist which can be used to measure the level of access of the rooms in your house? Curious? Here’s how we measure the depth of your room.

The size (metrics) itself was developed by a scientist in the field of Urban Architecture and Morphology at the University of London, Professor Bill Hillier. As explained on his profile page, as the Director of the Space Syntax Laboratory, Professor Bill Hillier leads a research team focused on analyzing spatial patterns on a building scale to a city scale. His two books, “The Social Logic of Space” and “Space is the Machine” explain in depth the theory he constructed and its application in research conducted by his team.

One of his famous theories that can be used to measure the depth of a room in a building and even in a city, called “Space Syntax”. In this approach Hillier sees the relationship between space and man (as the user / occupant of a space) does not refer to the relationship of the inhabitants of space with space as a single space, but rather to the relationship of man to space as a configuration of several spaces simultaneously.[1]

Here Hillier lays the theoretical foundation regarding the meaning of a space, which is formed from the configuration / relationship with other spaces that are used to accommodate the activities of its users. From here, he formulates a symbolic representation to describe the configuration of space and the depth of space into the access level of a space relative to another related space, when viewed from the space outside the system (depth 0).

How You Measure the Depth of Your Rooms
Symbolic representation of space configuration in Space Syntax (Source: Hillier, 2007)

The image above is contained in Hillier’s SITM book, illustrating the concept of space configuration and depth of space. Here, dots 2c and 3c are the root or root elements of space b and space c. Room A does not have a symbolic representation of the configuration of space because the space has no relation to the outside. Here, the depth of space 2c and 3c is (depth 0) which means the outside space. The depth of space 2a, 2b, and 3a is the depth of space 1 (depth 1) which means the space that can be accessed directly (1) from the outside. Meanwhile, the depth of space 3b is at level 2, because to reach room 3b must go through one other space that is space 3a.

This depth level of space in a simple urban home generally not too deep. Typically, in a simple urban house does not have a special room that can only be accessed through the other room (in this case except the inside bathroom). However, it does not mean that in designing an urban house, there is no possibility of a “space in space”. Sometimes, because we are too hasty in designing space, we unconsciously put a space in the other room. Knowing the theory of space syntax and its application can help you reduce the chance of unwanted spaces.

When associated with the level of privacy, this theory and calculation method will help you to determine the level of access of spaces that require more privacy. The master bedroom for example, naturally has a deeper depth compared to living room, or other room. Moreover, the main bathroom needs more privacy. The simple imaging and coding method developed by Professor Hillier in this case will certainly help you design the space you need.

As a real example, here I am trying to describe the symbolic representation of space in simple urban homes that we find common.

How You Measure the Depth of Your Rooms
A depth of spaces in a typical simple urban house

That is one way to measure the depth of the existing space in your home. The metric can be used to determine the level of access of the rooms you plan to use as a private, semi private, or semi-public space within your home.

Hope it helps! 🙂



[1] Hillier, B. (2007). Space is the machine: a configurational theory of architecture. Space Syntax.

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