Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Sense of place

  1. #1
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847

    Sense of place

    Any body know any good answers or websites talking about why sense of place is important?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,846
    Check out the Land Information Access Association. Maybe Bear Up North knows more about this project? Here is a PDF of LIAA's "Building a Sense of Place" program: http://www.liaa.org/downloads/bsop.pdf

  3. #3
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847
    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Check out the Land Information Access Association. Maybe Bear Up North knows more about this project? Here is a PDF of LIAA's "Building a Sense of Place" program: http://www.liaa.org/downloads/bsop.pdf
    That second link is very helpful, thanks Wanigas?.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,699
    Had you looked at this website: Research on Place and Space
    http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/%7Ejanzb/place/websites.htm
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  5. #5

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    There is an extensive literature on this, little of which is on the Web. You might have to hit a library. One author to start with would be Michael Hough.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Who cares.
    Posts
    1,038
    I'd check out Richard Sennett too, and his book The Conscience of the Eye . Fascinating read, all about cities' character and how it's shaped over the course of time, and through the influx of cultures.
    I don't dream. I plan.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847
    Thanks so far everyone, but let me further the question...

    Why do you think sense of place is important?


    A person asked me this and I am having extreme difficulty answering with substance. I can easily explain what it is, but not why it is important... especially to someone who says they don’t care about it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Who cares.
    Posts
    1,038
    A sense of place seems to be something that is organic and historic. It's what all the new "traditional" neighborhoods and lifestyle centers are trying to package to their buyers, and what you can actually find in existing, older neighborhoods and commercial centers. It's what sets one city apart from another, why Cincinnati is different from Indianapolis and from Columbus even though they're all Midwestern cities of approximately the same size. It can be subtle, or it can be overt. It's why some neighborhoods remain bastions of the old guard even though they may be surrounded by sprawl or decaying neighborhoods, and why other neighborhoods attract arty types, or families, or empty nesters, or all three. Sorry, this is probably all really vague. For example: You decide you need a cup of coffee. You walk into a neighborhood lunch counter, that's been there for 60 years, where the local retired cop props up the counter at one end and where a succession of teenagers have learned waitressing skills. You feel like you're a part of that neighborhood, participating in part of its ongoing story, even if you don't necessarily live there (or conversely you feel very much like an outsider, pay, and leave as quickly as possible). It generates some kind of a visceral, emotional reaction that may be so subtle you don't even notice it until the next day, when you need another cup of coffee, and walk into the nearest branch of a certain coffee conglomerate. You notice the hanging orangy glass chandeliers, exactly like the ones in the branch in that airport from last week. The stylishly colorful mugs for sale, the baked goods packaged just so. These things are commodities. You feel more like a target market than a part of an ongoing story. This is a sense of place(or lack thereof), IMHO.
    I don't dream. I plan.

  9. #9

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    Everyone has a sense of place, including those who say they don't care, and that sense of place affects there actions/perceptions whether they are conscious of it or not. I can't lay my hands on the citation here at work, but there is well-designed research that shows hospital patients who have a view of trees heal faster than those (in the same building) that do not.

    Western culture has led us to believe that we are definitively separate from our environment. Its not true, and so much of the violence we do to others and even more so, to ourselves, is rooted in that misconception.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847
    Quote Originally posted by Plannerbabs
    A sense of place seems to be something that is organic and historic. It's what all the new "traditional" neighborhoods and lifestyle centers are trying to package to their buyers, and what you can actually find in existing, older neighborhoods and commercial centers. It's what sets one city apart from another, why Cincinnati is different from Indianapolis and from Columbus even though they're all Midwestern cities of approximately the same size. It can be subtle, or it can be overt. It's why some neighborhoods remain bastions of the old guard even though they may be surrounded by sprawl or decaying neighborhoods, and why other neighborhoods attract arty types, or families, or empty nesters, or all three. Sorry, this is probably all really vague. For example: You decide you need a cup of coffee. You walk into a neighborhood lunch counter, that's been there for 60 years, where the local retired cop props up the counter at one end and where a succession of teenagers have learned waitressing skills. You feel like you're a part of that neighborhood, participating in part of its ongoing story, even if you don't necessarily live there (or conversely you feel very much like an outsider, pay, and leave as quickly as possible). It generates some kind of a visceral, emotional reaction that may be so subtle you don't even notice it until the next day, when you need another cup of coffee, and walk into the nearest branch of a certain coffee conglomerate. You notice the hanging orangy glass chandeliers, exactly like the ones in the branch in that airport from last week. The stylishly colorful mugs for sale, the baked goods packaged just so. These things are commodities. You feel more like a target market than a part of an ongoing story. This is a sense of place(or lack thereof), IMHO.
    I agree. And this is basically how I explained it (with slightly different examples)... But for someone who say "prove why it is important" apparantly this does not cut it...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian oulevin's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    The Burg
    Posts
    178
    I think Plannerbabs did a great job of explaining it. A sense of place is what makes a neighborhood or city distinct. It's what puts the "there" there -- how people associate with a place. It elicits loyalty from those who spend time there. So many things can define it -- a favorite bench, a piece of public art, a bridge you cross every day, the grandfatherly drugstore clerk, the predominant architectural style, and most of all, the memories that are created there.

    In a paper for grad school, I argued for architecural design controls and used college campuses as an example. It's safe to say when an alumnus comes back for homecoming, memories start flooding their minds. Campuses have powerful senses of place. They start with a clear physical motif but are burnished by the times spent there.

    In that same paper I argued there are economic benefits to creating a sense of place (kind of a stretch in hindsight). I wrote that historic preservation districts, where a style dominates, have higher property values than neighborhoods with a mishmash of styles. HP districts like German Village in Columbus, OH illustrate this. And, like Savannah and Cape May, NJ, a tourist economy is enjoyed as well.

    One could say that suburbs, with their generic wavy streets and same-sized lawns, lack a sense of place -- and that inner cities, with their grunge, unique businesses, and public spaces have more of it. But to me, it really is about association with the physical environment.

    BTW, I shake my head at the way lifestyle centers are being constructed now. The developers think they're creating a sense of place, but if you've seen one LC, you've seen them all. Brick paving and vintage lighting aren't enough. People don't mistake them for Main Street, they're just retail Disneylands.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    But for someone who say "prove why it is important" apparantly this does not cut it.
    When I hear people say this about things like sense of place or aesthetics, I am reminded of that scen in the beginning of "Dead Poet's Society" where Robin Williams is debunking the literature analysis methods of J. Evan Prescott, Phd. Great literature does not lend itself to quantitative analysis, and neither does sense of place. You can't say a sense of place increased by x factor will increase its user's satisfaction by x%. Prove why literature is important. Prove why music is important. You can't do it the way you can prove that clean water supplies are important. The human animal does not live on utility alone. Where would we be without art, music, and architecture? The values are mercurial. It is about the individual's perception of the place. Some people are just insensitive to it.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  13. #13
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    The easiest way to explain its importance is to use an example such as:

    Randomly select a location in our city or a neighbouring one, assume that you can't read the street signs and that no one is willing to tell you where you are. How do you figure out where you are and how do you get home? Answer teh clues you use to determine this are also those that define space and what makes each place indivduals. If I dropped you in a big box store in tuscon and did not let you outside, would you know it?

    By having an environment (regardless of what it looks like) that has discernaible design features that differentiate it from other places you can figure out where you are and the context of how people live in an area.

    If this is a student, I'd suggest to them to find another major. If it is a colleague tell them to pound sand.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713


    To Be a 'Clone Town,' or Not: That Is the Question
    By Lizette Alvarez

    STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England - To survive the approach to the home where William Shakespeare was born, a striking timber-frame house in the center of this bustling town, it would be wise to bid adieu to all bucolic notions of quaint old England and ready oneself for the onslaught of globalization.

    A visitor must march past Country Casuals, Boots pharmacy, Next, and Marks & Spencer, and pass Accessorize, HMV, Whittard and of course, the dueling coffee shops, Starbucks and Costa Coffee. If it were not for Shakespeare's dwelling and a few notable old houses, this town - with row upon row of British chain stores - would scarcely be different from any other in Britain these days. Most butcher shops and hardware stores have closed. So have the family clothing shops, the fishmongers and a long list of other independent businesses.

    "If someone blindfolded you, put you in a helicopter and set you down in a town somewhere in England, you wouldn't be able to tell where you are anymore," said Jim Hyslop, 55, who lives just outside Stratford. The chain stores, he said, "change the character of a place."

    In the past five years, chain stores owned by corporations and out-of-town megastores similar to Wal-Mart (one of them, Asda, is, in fact, owned by Wal-Mart), have come to dominate many British towns and cities, creating a palpable sense of homogeneity from Kent all the way to Cumbria, and drawing striking parallels to America.

    Many of the main shopping thoroughfares, so-called "high streets," now traffic in sameness: ubiquitous cellphone shops (Orange, Vodafone, O2); the familiar coffee chains (Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee); the typical clothing stores (Gap, Next, Warehouse); and the cookie-cutter restaurants (Café Rouge, ASK, Pizza Express). Neighborhood greengrocers are also on the way out, replaced by chain minisupermarkets, most notably Tesco, a company that has become one of the world's top retailers.

    "In the case of Britain, and especially England, there is a huge sense of identity investment in the image of towns and cities, and the notion that this sort of bland, gradual effacement of character is taking place has taxed people at a deep level," said Andrew Simms, policy director for the New Economic Foundation, an independent economic research organization that published a report in August called "Clone Town Britain."

    "It makes life boring," Mr. Simms added. "It makes our communities boring places to be. That is one thing that has touched people deeply. People don't want to live in towns that look all the same. It's dull."

    In its report, the foundation visited a series of towns and cities and counted both chain shops and independent businesses. It also contends that the spread of chains and sprawling Tesco-style stores winds up hurting local economies, because less money is pumped back into the area, and people are deprived of choice. A previous report in 2002 found that specialty stores like butchers and bakers were closing at a rate of 50 a week, along with 20 traditional pubs a month.

    The reasons independent businesses are vanishing here are familiar to Americans: high rents; customer demand for cheaper goods; and corporate muscle. It is just that in the past few years their disappearance has become increasingly visible and particularly striking in a part of the world that once took such pride in its community shops.



    "It's happening because of the consumer," said Nick Gladding, senior analyst at Verdict Research, a group that specializes in retail. "They are becoming more demanding.

    "And people increasingly like familiarity," he added, noting that there are generational differences in shopping trends. "People like to know what to expect when they go into a shop or restaurant."

    Lacey's, an ironmonger, or hardware store, in Stratford-upon-Avon, has been in town for generations. It is run by David Haywaid, 53, as it was by his father and grandfather before him. Mr. Haywaid said the town had changed markedly in recent years as independents had been driven to close because of high rents. "The only shops that can make money are the clothing shops, with their horrendous markups," he said.

    His own shop is so old-fashioned that it is now a draw in itself, luring nostalgic out-of-towners who pine for "something different," said Mr. Haywaid, who owns the building his store occupies. Around the corner, at Barry the Butcher, Stewart Ashfield, the deputy manager, agrees. Not too long ago, there were 12 butcher shops in town; now there are 2. "Stratford has changed out of all recognition," he said. "We've been damaged by these chains, and the out-of-town shopping stores where people shop for everything under one roof as in America. What's been lost is the personal touch."

    "Clone towns," though, as the report calls them, are beginning to encounter resistance as people question whether Britain should emulate America or follow Continental Europe, which is trying hard to preserve its uniqueness. In France and Poland, for example, local authorities can veto the construction of large supermarkets.

    Local governments here are starting to push for economic incentives to guarantee a greater variety of shops. One town, Ludlow, has joined an Italian movement called Citta-slow, which embraces the "slow town" concept and promotes the benefits of eating locally grown produce.

    A few powerful landlords have also taken stands against chain stores. The Mercers' Company, one of London's biggest landlords, is trying to attract independent shops by offering them discounts on the streets around Covent Garden, a popular tourist spot. Howard de Walden Estates, the hereditary landlord of much of Marylebone Village in London, has rejected a number of chains on its high street in order to preserve a unique, and quite popular, mix of shops. The company's chief executive has been critical of local governments, saying they are taking a short-term view of planning by always going with the highest bidder.

    The question is: Is it too late to stem the tide?

    "They talk about a tipping point, where you suddenly see independent retailers wiped out in certain areas," said David Bishop, a spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses. "Unless you take some constructive action now it will resemble the U.S. We're a long way from that, but it is a real danger."

  15. #15
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Under the Table
    Posts
    1,900
    Blog entries
    6
    Some of our towns have ordinances to preserve the sense of place or special character of the area. This is for areas that are not in historic districts. PM me and I will send you the ordinances if you are interested.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  16. #16
    jimi_d's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Birmingham, England
    Posts
    89
    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    "If someone blindfolded you, put you in a helicopter and set you down in a town somewhere in England, you wouldn't be able to tell where you are anymore,"
    I'm afraid that I certainly could (although I have lived in England since I was 4). Just by looking at the first floor (ie what people in the US call the second floor - in the UK the floor at ground level is the Ground Floor and thought of as zero) you can narrow it down hugely. The style of buildings in those pictures made me think it was Stratford pretty much immediately (the only other place that even crossed my mind was Ludlow, Shropshire).

  17. #17

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by jimi_d
    I'm afraid that I certainly could (although I have lived in England since I was 4). Just by looking at the first floor (ie what people in the US call the second floor - in the UK the floor at ground level is the Ground Floor and thought of as zero) you can narrow it down hugely. The style of buildings in those pictures made me think it was Stratford pretty much immediately (the only other place that even crossed my mind was Ludlow, Shropshire).
    Could you do that for newly constructed neighborhoods or districts? That's the problem: in much of the Sunbelt, USA, you wouldn't have any idea.

  18. #18

    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    MetroManila, Philippines
    Posts
    4

    sense of place

    A sense of place helps the individual to connect and belong....to some past or present needs, consciously or not. By nature, whether we admit it or not, attachments are important to us. Attachment to people, things and places make us feel a significant part of the whole....ultimately giving us meaning amidst the chaos. A sense of place anchors us and appeases the insecurity in us...even if for a moment by being there.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 16
    Last post: 15 Jan 2012, 9:46 PM
  2. Directional Sense
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 29
    Last post: 21 May 2009, 10:44 PM
  3. Do some people have NO sense?
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 26 Dec 2006, 7:29 PM
  4. Sense of place
    Student Commons
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 18 Jan 2003, 9:56 AM
  5. Sense of place
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 29 Dec 2000, 10:06 AM