Machine Space Table of Contents | Urban and Economic Geography Working Group | The Virtual Geography Department

Student Instructions


Required Reading

Horvath, Ronald J. "Machine Space." Geographical Review 64 (1974): 167-188.


Mapping Machine Space

Depending upon whether you work individually or in a group, you will gather information from between five and fifteen one-block sites within a nearby urban area. You may pick your sites to include: (1) representatives of commercial, high-density residential, industrial, and low-density residential landuses in one precinct of the city to see how land-use affects machine space, or (2) representatives from one land-use category (commercial, residential, or industrial) at varying distances from the center of the city in order to determine whether there is a correlation between the amount of machine space and the distance of a site from the center of the city. Both options explore how the machine space varies across the entire urban environment. This project will provide you with experience in field surveying and field mapping. It raises issues concerning the effects of urbanization on the environment and environmental quality.

Techniques for Studying Machine Space

1. Select study sites using a map of the city and zoning classifications. If you are working alone, select five one-block areas. Or, you may wish to work in a group of 3-4 people. In that case, you should select at least 15 sites. You may approach the study in a number of ways.

2. Acquire or copy the necessary base maps. Make sure the scale is sufficiently large that they are useful during your field reconnaissance surveys. You may need to enlarge street maps or zoning maps. There are digital maps (.dgn, .dxf. and arc.e00 formats) available on-line from the Texas Natural Resources Information System. Paper maps are available from a number of different sources. You might find street-level maps (available from the Texas Department of Transportation) and city zoning maps (available from the City of Austin) especially helpful.

3. Field survey your study sites. Pace off the areas you have selected and record your findings on your map. Before you begin, you should set a lower level cut-off for your survey -- for instance, you might not include anything less than ten feet on a side. Remember that machine space includes automobile space (streets, driveways, parking lots, garages, service stations), ventilation systems, cooling plants, electric utility substations, water systems, etc.


4. Calculate area of machine space. At this point, you have several options. Check with your instructor to determine which you should use. You may use the:

5. Make comparisons among your sites. If you are working in a group, this will involve combining everyone's data. If you chose to work with only one land-use, are you able to show a correlation between distance and amount of machine space? If you worked with multiple land-uses, does your map resemble the "Machine Space by Land Use" diagram in this module?


What to Turn In

Finished maps of the machine space in your study area and an executive summary describing your findings.


On to the Supporting Materials -OR- Return to the Table of Contents


Created 10/30/96 by Shannon Crum. Last updated 9/6/96 by slc.