Mapping the urban form of coastal fishing towns in Algarve: Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António

<div><p>Abstract The paper examines the urban growth patterns of two coastal fishing towns in southern Portugal: Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António. The goal is to investigate the relationship between the configurational and network properties of the urban forms in order to identify generative or emergent patterns, understanding their particular urban morphology. The Space Syntax Theory, applied to the syntactical modelling of these towns, is used to understand the urban processes. Topological variables, such as connectivity, integration and intelligibility, are calculated by DepthMap Software and the Theory of the “Deformed Wheel” is used to represent the evolutionary trends and to identify generic rules. The study is developed by comparing the two urban networks in two moments of their evolution, first in the mid-20th century, which corresponds to the historic core, and second corresponding to the present day. The main results demonstrate a contrast between the segregated network of Olhão's irregular historic centre and the integrated network of Vila Real de Santo António's regular historic centre, revealed by the value of integration variable. The urban expansion of these towns during the last decades decreased the value of integration and aggravated the intelligibility of the urban fabric. The application of syntactic approaches, with quantitative analysis, aims to complement the traditional procedures of the History of Urbanism, developing an operational method adaptable to the study of urban morphology.</p></div>