Friday, February 17, 2012

Prague Tips: Mental Map of the City

Mental Mapping

In the everyday life, we usually walk through the streets of our city without following the saying: "one step at the time is a good walk". We hurry to reach our destination, taking the well known  little streets and shorcuts, and we often simply overlook the city itself, as a picture in the background.
According to Kevin Lynch, American professor anf urban planner, people understand their city in consistent and predictable ways, forming mental maps of the surroundings, which helps them navigate the urban landscape.There are five major elements, that we notice:
  • paths, the streets, sidewalks, trails, and other "people" channels
  • edges, perceived boundaries - walls, buildings, and shorelines
  • districts,  large sections of the city distinguished by some character
  • nodes, focal points, intersections or loci
  • landmarks, readily identifiable objects which serve as external reference points
With time, we get used to our mental maps and so we don't have to pay so much attention to the city itslef. If your city seems too well known to you, try out our tip how to refresh your picure of it and notice small deatils that you would not see on your daily walks! And if you are in a new city for a first time, try it afer a few days of your stay in an area that you think you know (or like) the best - you will be surprised, how many things you haven't noticed yet. Be sure to carry your map with you though!

Create Your City Algorithm

It's easy - simply pick your starting point and  write down an algorithm of your walk, eg.>
1. one turn to the right
2. second street to the left
3. 2x to the right  etc. 

Repeat at least one hour (or until you get totally lost) and don't forget to take your camera with you. Focus on small deatils, observe people around you and the rythm of the streets. We guarantee that you will see the city from a completely different perspective than before.
Sources & If you are interested to read more:
Lynch, Kevin, The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1960
Lynch, Kevin, City Sense and City Design: Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch
www.josephy.com
 


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