Maurits Voorhorst

In August 2011 Maurits Voorhorst published his Dutch book Logische Ruimte, eenduidige en authentieke stedebouw’ (‘Logical Space, unambiguous and authentic urban design’) about how to make an urban design easy to use. In his book he also describes squares. He determines the event square, the spatial square, the traffic square and the urban square. In his book he also enriches Vitruvius’ three basic principles for building projects and town planning with claritas.

Four kind of squares:
  1. The event square: a square that’s designed for intensely use at events, but is empty when there’s nothing to do. Every city needs a place for events, but people don’t feel pleasant on a big and empty event square.
  2. The spatial square: a square in front of a building to create a view to the building. These (mostly little) squares give historical centers it’s typical identity.
  3. The traffic square: cross points and parking areas dominate traffic squares. These areas are primary designed for the practical use and not for the spatial effect of the urban volume.
  4. The urban square: a squares where people meet each other, wanted to stay on, drink something at a terrace or just sit down on a bench or wall. An urban squares are the social points in the urban structure.


A4_claritas fourth principle

In his book ‘De Architectura’ Vitruvius distinguished three basic principles for building projects and town planning: Utilitas, Venustas and Firmitas. In his Dutch book Logische Ruimte Voorhorst enriches the three basic principles with a fourth: Claritas (unambiguity).

Not only the usability, beauty and durability are fundamental design items, also the unambiguously is one. Voorhorst defines the course to make an urban design easy to use. In his Lunch Hour Lectures at the University College London Alan Penn notes this as intelligibility.

Design and planning

Voorhorst not only wrote about spatial design of an urban square, he also mention the planning aspect. The success of an urban square depends on the design as Sitte described and on the quantity of people that’s on it. People aren’t attracted to the empty space of the square, but to the functions (utilitas) that are placed at the edges of the square. So, to create a pleasant urban square  the urban planning must go hand in hand with the urban design.


– E.M. Voorhorst MA: “Logische Ruimte, eenduidige en authentieke stedebouw” [2011], Uitgeverij Stili Novi – Utrecht.


  • Dear Maurits, thank you very much for share such an interesting information in internet. I would love to read your book. Did you also published it in English? Pilar

    • mauritsvoorhorst

      Hi Pilar,
      Thank you! I’m working on the book about ‘Irregular Squares’. I hope it will be published (in English) this year.
      Unfortunately, my early Dutch book ‘Logische Ruimte’ (‘Logical Space’) isn’t available in English.

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