Multimodal Representation of Urban Space

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Architecture


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 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 (apart from taste). 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 de 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. We will therefore investigate the role, not only of the individual senses, but also of sensor fusion in our sense of space, i.e. the importance of a combination of sensory stimuli and how they interplay with each other.
Description Novel means of recording and displaying multisensory representations of urban space were researched, innovated, and implemented. This resulted from workshops with invited specialists from a broad spectrum of relevant backgrounds, student field projects, and a very well attended conference with published proceedings. A methodology was developed and tested. A number of publications were produced and full details are available in the final report submitted to AHRC.
Exploitation Route The resulting methodology should be useful for urban planners, architects, etc.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Transport

Description No record of the findings being used but the researcher involved left immediately after the project to take up an academic post at another University.
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description Sensory Urbanism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Organiser : Organiser of major conference

Sensory Urbanism, Glasgow
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008