The following blog is a journey along an imaginary urban design / architectural project and for best understanding, reading in chronological order is recommended.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Walk of Senses

When you walk along a particular route, road, street or path what triggers your senses and how do these make you feel?

Our senses include sight, sound, smell and touch. Landmarks for example can trigger our visual senses while busy roads can trigger sound and even smell. A landmark can catch your eye from a distance and as you walk closer to it, the details on the landmark become clearer and further enhances your visual senses over a period of time as your viewing angle changes. It's important to note that each individuals senses are unique to them as some have better eyesight than others while others may be simply more observant. Analysing how our senses are triggered can therefore becomes a personal observation. While at University, my fellow student Pete and I developed an analytical study called the 'Walk of Senses Analysis'. It concentrated more on the visual senses as sound and smell can vary greatly depending on time of day or wind direction.

The method we undertook was to walk along a common route and note any point or area of interest that visually triggered our senses. These places of interest would then be mapped out and the distance between them calculated. We felt that our visual senses could only be truly triggered from a maximum distance of approx 200m to 250m from a place of interest, beyond which it is too far away and our eyes will be distracted towards other things.

In my opinion, when you have situations where visual interests are greater than 200m apart, the walk can appear slow, dull and boring in comparison to when they are closer together.
This is an important aspect to consider in urban design because we want to encourage more people to walk and cycle rather than always revert to their cars. An interesting walk will most likely be repeated creating more active streets which in turn creates a greater community feel. Also the more who walk, the less cars and therefore less pollution. It all sounds too simple but surely it's a start.

The following images are Pete and my observations from 5 different paths which we walked in Govan.

The analysis highlighted that places like Govan cross (shops etc) are visually rich with their buildings inherited from a bygone era, while there are many other areas which due to decline have become empty of visual interest.

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