Published: 29-11-2019

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“The image of the city” by Kelvin Lynch

Lynch’s in the “The image of the city” divided his discourse into five sections, the Image of the Atmosphere, 3 Cities, The City and Its Elements, City Type, and A New Scale. “The Image of the Environment” sets the basis for Lynch’s theory of city style via discussion of Legibility, Constructing the Image, Structure and Identity, and Imageability. In 3 cities he analyses the urban types of Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles, and identifies frequent themes that they share.

He 1st explored how the characteristics of an urban space is impacted and how folks tend to orient and associate themselves with the space by means of mental maps which consist of 5 elements: (1) paths: routes along which folks move throughout the city (two) edges: boundaries and breaks in continuity (three) districts: places characterized by typical characteristics (four) nodes: strategic focus points for orientation like squares and junctions and (five) landmarks: external points of orientation, generally a simply identifiable physical object in the urban landscape by linking how people orient themselves in the aforementioned three cities. A central notion in this book is that of legibility (also referred to as imageability and visibility). Legibility implies the extent to which the cityscape can be “read”. People who move through the city engage in way-finding. Lynch proposes that these mental maps can consequently be either perceived as steady or in continual modify, which is the most noticeable impact of external elements affecting any environment.

The research focused on Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles. As explained, the strategy undertaken concentrated on two phases, consisting firstly in workplace-based interviews, where the sample citizens were also required to draw up a map in order to make a fast description of the city. The second phase consisted in a systematic examination of the environmental image evoked by trained observers in the field. It is intriguing to realise how the whole interview and in-field approach has been the one aimed at discovering the social experience of a town, which does not just outline how a urban technique performs but also how it is perceived by men and women. This approach reveals a particular compatibility with the rising experimental psychology of the 60s, aimed at constituting strategies and theories according to the action and reaction of people.

In my view this book is an incredible valuable operate to understand how folks perceive, inhabit and move around in the urban landscape. It shows that urban space is not just composed of its physical characteristics but equally by representations in mental images. Mobility is not just (the prospective for) free of charge-flowing movement but heavily relies on structuring and identifying the environment by way of the help of mental maps. Therefore it is critical to think about opinion of various section of the society and not just a single particular section which I think was a one particular of the drawback.

In addition, Lynch’ emphasis on clear legibility of the urban environment poses some crucial inquiries about the existing tendency to saturate the urban landscape with data. What occurs to the all round legibility of the city when every single developing, object, and spot desires to communicate and announce its existence for instance time square where every single advertisement show dominate the other top to chores and therefore the locations tends to loss its legibility. One more problem brought up by Lynch’ operate is the eternal query of (the end of) serendipity, so typically discussed in relation to mobile media and location-based services. Are locative solutions undermining the possible for exploration and unexpected encounters with new areas and individuals, when our movements are guided and goal-oriented? Lynch is of the opinion that disorientation is the cause of fear and anxiety, and currently claims that “to turn into totally lost is possibly a rather uncommon encounter for most individuals in the contemporary city” (pg four). However under controlled situations he acknowledges that “there is some worth in mystification, labyrinth, or surprise in the environment” (pg 5).

Lynch operate also raises a query that is especially relevant these days. Is our capacity for orientation and way-finding anything we learn (and as a result can unlearn as well when we externalize this to our GPS navigation devices Lynch requires a clear stance when he says “it now appears unlikely that there is any magical “instinct” of way-finding” (pg 3)

Ultimately, some a lot more vital remarks. Lynch mainly emphasizes the part of the visual sense. He says how folks uncover their way in the city by relying on vision. Other faculties such as hearing and even smelling are lacking in his perform.
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