"Representing space is not only a long-standing challenge to the arts but is also a major task in the planning process for buildings, cities, and many other products. This particularly applies to the "Urban Renaissance" of our days with its emphasis on public places.
Space – more than the surrounding objects or buildings – seems to demand to be represented not only visually, as it is not only determined by the visible surrounding objects, but also by sound and smell which are literally "in the air", and by an integrated multimodal body experience which is related to the space itself. Nevertheless, spaces, especially urban spaces in planning processes, are today usually only represented in a visual manner.
The major hypothesis of our project is that much better results for convenient and appealing urban spaces could be achieved if all sensory factors were acknowledged and controlled during the design process. There is no doubt about the multimodal quality of urban space – it always appeals to all senses. For example the most beautifully designed public square is destroyed if a noisy and odorous motorway is nearby, and not much would be left of the special atmosphere of the Piazza della Fontana di Trevi in Rome if the sound and coolness deriving from the running water was missing. All these factors are usually poorly represented (if considered at all) during the design process, but such an appropriate representation could help create better public spaces.
For more information contact:
Dr Raymond Lucas
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Architecture
University of Strathclyde
Room G28, Architecture Building
Glasgow, G4 0NG
The Sensory Notation Handbook will be available soon, with the first edition detailing the notational system and providing 30 case studies from Rome, Tokyo and Boston. An expanded edition of 50 studies - including Glasgow and Edinburgh will follow.