This chapter introduces Boundary Line Type (BLT) mapping, a vector GIS based cross-culturally and diachronically comparative method, used for mapping the socio-spatial significance of urban built environments. This new research method is related to other methods currently used to study contemporary as well as historical urban built environments such as urban morphology, space syntax, and GIS based approaches. BLT mapping uses GIS technology in order to apply an ontology of formal boundary conceptualisations expressing the constitutive differences among the materially constructed subdivisions which shape built environments and are inhabited by urban society. This ontology resulted from a firm socio-spatial theoretical grounding (Vis in Sp Flows: Int J Urb ExtraUrb Stud 2(4): 15–29, 2013a; Vis 2013b; Vis in J Borderland Stud, forthcoming) and is here operationalised on the basis of contemporary, historical, historically reconstructed, and archaeological ground-level city plans of the historic city of Winchester (UK) and Chunchucmil (Classic Maya, Mexico). The research processes of data preparation and the analytical mapping of BLTs by identifying them in empirical data contexts are presented. This alerts the prospective user to the challenges and practical measures involved in using spatial datasets of different origin. The interpretive opportunities of the resultant formal redescription of the urban landscape and the potential of the BLT data structure for both advanced spatial analysis and visualisation is explained. Facilitating this interpretive and analytical mapping practice is expected to stimulate future research to systematically explore society-space relations as manifest and developing in cities over time and in socio-culturally contrasting urban traditions. Devising and conducting this methodology advances the qualitative GIS research agenda for the spatial humanities and social sciences by marrying theoretically informed ideational concepts to quantifiable empirical units of information.
Vis, B. N. (2014). Mapping socio-spatial relations in the urban built environment through time: Describing the socio-spatial significance of inhabiting urban form. In Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography (Vol. 0, pp. 45–93). Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-00993-3_4
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