Axial maps sometimes referred to as Space Syntax is a system of mapping accessibility. It allows human behaviour, communication and interaction to be mapped in relation to Spatial layouts. It helps us understand how existing spaces are working and the potential effects of new interventions. The following images show some axial maps of Trafalgar Square when Norman Foster was asked to redesign it. They mapped different options and the best proposal was a central staircase leading from a newly pedestrianised area between the square and the National Gallery.
(images from http://www.lydiaheard.com/)
The following image from Google Earth shows how successful the space has been. As you can see its full of people.
Axial maps can show the impact of:
1. The street network on urban movement patterns and flows (Hillier and Iida, 2005),and the evolution of the local centres and sub-centres. (Hillier, 2006, 1999)
2. Spatial design on feelings of security and insecurity (Hillier 2004)
3. Urban Spatial segregation and social disadvantage (Vaughan et al 2005)
4. Spatial layouts on organisational cultures (Penn, 1999)
5. Office redesign on productivity (Bafna, 2005)
6. Museum layout on use and satisfaction (Stavroulaki and Peponis 2002, Hillier and Tzorzti 2007)
(Taken from http://www.udeworld.com/)