Image of the CityA review of the Book3/16/2012Shashikant Nishant SharmaB. Planning, SPA, Delhi
ContentsIntroduction ........................................................................................................
THE IMAGE OF THE CITY                                                                   Author: Kevin LynchIntroductionKev...
In the same book Lynch also coined the words "imageability" and "wayfinding". Image ofthe City has had important and durab...
3. The city Image and Its elements4. City Form5. A new ScaleAppendices1. Some references to orientation2. The Use of the m...
Although legibility is not the only important property of a beautiful city; but is ofimportance when environments at the u...
1.      A systematic field survey was made by a trained observer, who mapped thepresence of various elements, their visibi...
interrelated. Images may differ not only by the scale of area involved, but by viewpoint,time of day, or season.Image qual...
paths, the network of habitual or potential lines of movement through the urbancomplex by which the whole can be ordered b...
would knit together a dense and vivid image, and sustain it over areas of metropolitanscale.Metropolitan form – the increa...
In this section of the report we will discuss about the pros and cons of the writing styleof a great author which will be ...
feel the maturity of the author in keeping a unity in the diverse ideas he has put forwardto support his argument and anal...
Coherence:Pros:The book is organized logically, flow smoothly, and "stick" together. In other words,everything in the writ...
Comprehensive but Compact:Pros:The book is comprehensive in the sense that it has covered all the relevant facts andanalys...
It creates interest among readers because of its lucid and convincing style. Clearthinking, objective tone and logical arr...
Cons:Author cannot be concise in explaining a new concept. And we can find that when heintroduces concepts of imageability...
Here, you can see that it is a paragraph broken into two subparts to make the readingand interpretation easy simultaneousl...
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Image of the city book review- shashikant nishant sharma -16 march, 2012

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  1. 1. Image of the CityA review of the Book3/16/2012Shashikant Nishant SharmaB. Planning, SPA, Delhi
  2. 2. ContentsIntroduction .................................................................................................................................................. 2Theory of Kelvin Lynch .................................................................................................................................. 3Contents of the Book .................................................................................................................................... 3 Analysis: .................................................................................................................................................... 4CHAPTER WISE DESCRIPTION........................................................................................................................ 4 1. The Image of the Environment ............................................................................................................. 4 2. Three cities ............................................................................................................................................ 5 3. The city image and its elements ........................................................................................................... 6 4. City form................................................................................................................................................ 7 5. New scale .............................................................................................................................................. 9Analysis of the Writing Style ......................................................................................................................... 9 Flow:........................................................................................................................................................ 10 Focus: ...................................................................................................................................................... 10 Unity:....................................................................................................................................................... 10 Illustrations ............................................................................................................................................. 11 Coherence: .............................................................................................................................................. 12 Creativity: ................................................................................................................................................ 12 Comprehensive but Compact: ................................................................................................................ 13 Reference to Relevant Details:................................................................................................................ 13 Lucid Style: .............................................................................................................................................. 13 Readable: ................................................................................................................................................ 14 Concrete:................................................................................................................................................. 14 Concise: ................................................................................................................................................... 14 Correctness: ............................................................................................................................................ 15 Paragraphs .............................................................................................................................................. 15 Punctuations ........................................................................................................................................... 16 Abbreviations and Acronyms .................................................................................................................. 16 Conclusions ............................................................................................................................................. 16
  3. 3. THE IMAGE OF THE CITY Author: Kevin LynchIntroductionKevin Andrew Lynch (1918 Chicago, Illinois - 1984 Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts)was an American urban planner and author.Lynch studied at Yale University, Taliesin (studio) under Frank Lloyd Wright, RensselaerPolytechnic Institute, and received a Bachelors degree in city planning from MIT in1947. He worked in Greensboro, NC as an urban planner but was recruited to teach atMIT by Lloyd Rodwin. He began lecturing at MIT the following year, became an assistantprofessor in 1949, was tenured as an associate professor in 1955, and became a fullprofessor in 1963.Lynch provided seminal contributions to the field of city planning through empiricalresearch on how individuals perceive and navigate the urban landscape. His booksexplore the presence of time and history in the urban environment, how urbanenvironments affect children, and how to harness human perception of the physicalform of cities and regions as the conceptual basis for good urban design.Lynchs most famous work, The Image of the City published in 1960 by MIT Press, is theresult of a five-year study on how users perceive and organize spatial information asthey navigate through cities. Using three disparate cities as examples (Boston, JerseyCity, and Los Angeles), Lynch reported that users understood their surroundings inconsistent and predictable ways, forming mental maps with five elements:  Paths, the streets, sidewalks, trails, and other channels in which people travel;  Edges, perceived boundaries such as walls, buildings, and shorelines;  Districts, relatively large sections of the city distinguished by some identity or character;  Nodes, focal points, intersections or loci;  Landmarks, readily identifiable objects which serve as external reference points.
  4. 4. In the same book Lynch also coined the words "imageability" and "wayfinding". Image ofthe City has had important and durable influence in the fields of urban planning andenvironmental psychology.This book is about the look of the cities, and whether this look is of any importance, andwhether it can be changed. The urban landscape has many roles, but is missed out to beseen, remembered, and to delight in. Giving visual form to the city is a special and a newkind of design problem.To examine this new problem, the book looks at three American cities: Boston, JerseyCity and Los Angeles and thereby suggests a method and offers some first principles ofcity design.Theory of Kelvin LynchLynch influenced the field of city planning through his work on the theory of city form,and studies relating to human perceptions of the city, on the perception of the cityenvironment and its consequences for city design.Kevin Lynch says "Looking at cities can give a special pleasure, however common placethe sight may be. Like a piece of architecture, the city is a construction in space, but of avast scale, . . . perceived only in the course of long spans of time . . . At every instant,there is more than the eye can see, more than the ear can hear, a setting or viewwaiting to be explored. Nothing is experienced by itself, but always in relation to itssurroundings, the sequences of events leading up to it, the memory of past experiences. . . Every citizen has had long associations with some part of his city, and his image issoaked in memories and meanings . . . “Contents of the Book1. The Image of the Environment2. Three cities
  5. 5. 3. The city Image and Its elements4. City Form5. A new ScaleAppendices1. Some references to orientation2. The Use of the methodology3. Two examples of analysisAnalysis:Pros:The content of the book is very simple and attractive. In the table of content there isonly the list of title of the chapters of the book and nothing about the subtitles undereach chapter. So, the author has tried to keep the curiosity of readers under control.Cons: The content has no indication of the sub-content of the chapter as there are nosubtitles in the table of content. The reader will have to search book if he needparticular reference.CHAPTER WISE DESCRIPTION1. The Image of the EnvironmentLegibility - Here the visual quality of the American city is considered by studying themental image of that city held by its citizens. The concentration is on one particularvisual quality: the apparent clarity or “legibility” of the cityscape. To explain this it iscompared to the same printed page of the book saying, if it is legible, it can be graspedvisually as a related pattern of recognizable symbols.
  6. 6. Although legibility is not the only important property of a beautiful city; but is ofimportance when environments at the urban scale of size, time and complexity isconsidered. Building the image - Environmental images are the result of a two –way processbetween the observer and his environment. The image of a given reality may varysignificantly between different observers. There are formal types of image elements intowhich we can conveniently divide the city image: path, landmark, edge, node anddistrict.Structure and Identity – it says, an environmental image may be analyzed into threecomponents: identity, structure and meaning. All the three terms are defined thenwhich leads to the definition of Imageability as, the quality in a physical object whichgives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer.Through these terms and related examples, the readers are asked to learn to see thehidden forms in the vast cover of our cities. The conscious remolding of the large-scalephysical environment has been now possible. This problem is put in capsule definition ofarchitecture by Suzanne Langer:“It is the environment made visible.”2. Three cities Analyses are done for the central areas of three American cities: Boston,Massachusetts; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Los Angeles, California. Boston is unique incharacter among American cities, being both vivid in form and full of locationaldifficulties. Jersey City was chosen for its apparent formlessness, for what seemed, onfirst observation, to be its extremely low order of Imageability. Los Angeles is a new city,of an utterly different scale, and with a gridiron plan in its central area. In every case acentral area of approximately 2 ½ by 1 ½ miles was taken for study. In each of thesecities, two basic analyses were carried out:
  7. 7. 1. A systematic field survey was made by a trained observer, who mapped thepresence of various elements, their visibility, their image strength or weakness, andtheir connections, disconnections, and other interrelations. Also any special successes ordifficulties in the potential image structure were mapped.2. A lengthy interview was held with a small sample of city residents to evoke theirown images of their physical environment. The interviews included requestsdescriptions, locations, and sketches, and for performance of imaginary trips.Distinct differences in the imageability of the three cities appeared. Certain features:open space, vegetation, sense of motion on the paths, visual contrasts-seemed to be ofparticular importance in the cityscape.3. The city image and its elementsHere, it says a public image of any given city is the overlap of many individual images.The contents of city images studied, which are referable to physical forms, are classifiedinto five types of elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks. Each of theseelements has been defined then. The author says, none of the element types isolated above exist in isolation in the realcase. Districts are structured with nodes, defined by edges, penetrated by paths andsprinkled with landmarks. Elements regularly overlap and pierce one another. All threecities have been discussed in relation to these elements.Element interrelations - These elements are simply the raw material of theenvironmental image at the city scale. They must be patterned together to provide asatisfying form. Now the author suggests considering the interaction of pairs of unlikeelements. Such pairs may reinforce one another, resonate so that they enhance eachother’s power, or they may conflict and destroy themselves.The shifting image – Rather than a single comprehensive image for the entireenvironment, there seemed to be sets of images, which more or less overlapped and
  8. 8. interrelated. Images may differ not only by the scale of area involved, but by viewpoint,time of day, or season.Image quality – study of various individual images revealed certain other distinctionsbetween them. For example, images of an element differed between observers in termsof their relative density, i.e., the extent to which they were packed with detail.From this, one might infer that the images of greatest value are those which mostclosely approach a strong total field: dense, rigid and vivid; which make use of allelement types and form characteristics without concentration; and which can be puttogether either hierarchically or continuously, as occasion demands.4. City form In this chapter the author talks about what opportunity we have of forming our newcity world into an imageable landscape: visible, coherent and clear. The author says thatthe city dweller requires a new attitude and a physical reshaping of his domain intoforms which entrance the eye, which organize themselves from level to level in time andspace, which can stand as symbols for urban life. The form must be somewhatnoncommittal, plastic to the purposes and perception of its citizens.As an artificial world, the city should be so in the best sense: made by art, shaped forhuman purposes. It is our ancient habit to adjust to our environment, to discriminateand organize perceptually whatever is present to our senses. Survival dominance basedthem on this sensuous adaptability, yet now we may go on to a new phase of thisinteraction.Designing the paths – To heighten the image ability of the urban environment is tofacilitate its visual identification and structuring. The elements isolated above – thepaths, edges, landmarks, nodes and regions – are the building blocks in the process ofmaking firm, differentiated structures at the urban scale. It says how important are the
  9. 9. paths, the network of habitual or potential lines of movement through the urbancomplex by which the whole can be ordered by concentration of some spatial use oractivity along their margins, a characteristic spatial quality, a special texture of floor orfaçade, a particular lighting pattern, a unique set of smells or sounds, a typical detail ormode of planting.These characters should be so applied as to give continuity to the path. If one or more ofthese qualities is employed consistently along the line, then the path may be imaginedas a continuous, unified element. the author also suggests how a visual hierarchy andscale can be given to line (path).he also says if the intersection (the point of connectionand decision for the man in motion) can be visualized clearly, if the intersection itselfmakes a vivid image and if the joint of the two paths with respect to each other is clearlyexpressed, then the observer can build a satisfactory structure.Form qualities – The clues for urban design have been summarized under this topic as: a. Singularity b. Form simplicity c. Continuity d. Dominance e. Clarity of joint f. Directional differentiation g. Visual scope h. Motion awareness i. Time series j. Names and meaningsAll of these qualities do not work in isolation. A region would be unmistakable whichhad a simple form, a continuity of building type and use, which was singular in the city,sharply bounded, clearly jointed to a neighboring region and visually concave.The sense of the whole – in discussing design by element types there is a tendency toskim over the interrelation of the parts into a whole. In such a whole, paths wouldexpose and prepare for the districts, and link together the various nodes. The nodeswould joint and mark off the paths, while the edges would bind off the districts, and theboundaries would indicate their cores. It is the total orchestration of these units which
  10. 10. would knit together a dense and vivid image, and sustain it over areas of metropolitanscale.Metropolitan form – the increasing size of our metropolitan areas and the speed withwhich we traverse them raise many new problems for perception. Total imageability of an extensive area such as a metropolitan region would not meanan equal intensity of image at every point. There would be dominant figures and moreextensive backgrounds, focal points and connective tissue. There are two techniquessuggested:  The entire region is organized as a static hierarchy.  Any given part of the region might focus on a minor node, these minor nodes being satellite to a major node, while all the major nodes are arranged to culminate in a single primary node for the region.5. New scaleTrue enough, we need an environment which is not simply well organized, but poeticand symbolic as well. It should speak of the individuals and their complex society.But clarity of structure and vividness of identity are first steps to the development ofstrong symbols. Such a sense of place in itself enhances every human activity that occursthere and encourages the deposit of memory trace. In development of the image,education in seeing will be quite as important as the reshaping of what is seen. If art andaudience grow together, then our cities will be a source of daily enjoyment to millions oftheir inhabitants.Analysis of the Writing Style
  11. 11. In this section of the report we will discuss about the pros and cons of the writing styleof a great author which will be like looking at the Sun with a lamp. Still, for the sake ofenhancing the knowledge base of the readers, I will try to do justice with my work.Flow:Pros: There is a definite flow of ideas in the book. The author starts with briefly thepeople perceive their built environment and then we goes on to substantiate hisobservations through case studies and arrive at some substantial information andunderstanding of the elements which create the image of the city. Then in second lastchapter he suggest how we can use his finding in consciously deciding the image of thecity which is lacking in many modern cities and colonies which seems to be a row ofmatch boxes. And finally, he gives an account of his methodologies and techniques ofresearch.Cons: I could not find any disruption in the flow of ideas in the book.Focus:Pros:The book revolves around a central idea which is Image of the City. Each paragraph hasa clear main point or topic sentence. The chapterisation of the book has been donekeeping in view the requirement of the subject under discussion. He starts with thegeneral perception of the people and then introduces some terms and terminology toillustrate his ideas in a better manner and make readers understand his point of views.The author has taken up three case studies and then he finally concludes the book withthe study results identifying the elements of the image of a city.Cons:Book sometimes focuses more on some aspects. The author analyse the fact in-depth,and this leads to shift in focus.Unity:Pros:Every paragraph in a chapter is well related to the main idea. Each paragraph has triedto stick to its main point. And elaborate the idea through illustrations. The reader will
  12. 12. feel the maturity of the author in keeping a unity in the diverse ideas he has put forwardto support his argument and analysis of the three cities.Cons:No comment.IllustrationsPros:The book has good number of illustrations and maps which not only makes the bookbore readable but also adds to the comprehensibility of the concepts which author hassuccessfully presented in his book.Cons:There are more illustrations in the case studies.
  13. 13. Coherence:Pros:The book is organized logically, flow smoothly, and "stick" together. In other words,everything in the writing makes sense to a reader and he feels the urge to read furtherto complete the broader image that the author is trying to create. You will never feelthat a particular section of the book is worthless of little importance. This can beachieved only through keeping coherence in the follow of ideas which I think author hastried to do.Cons:The coherence in the second last chapter i. e., ’City Form’ is lacking to some extent.Creativity:Pros:The book carries some of the personality, the individuality of its author. Kevil Lynch haddeveloped his own writing style. He starts with a hypothesis and then tests it throughthe studies. You will find that he give very simple examples to substantiate his point ofview or augment the understanding of the readers.Cons:The introduction of new concepts and meaning to the existing words adds to theconfusion like imageability or way-finding to the average reader who may not havecomprehensive knowledge of the intricacies of the language. For example authordefines ‘Legibility’ as a term used to describe the ease with which people canunderstand the layout of a place. By making questionnaire surveys, Lynch defined amethod of analyzing legibility based on five elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes andlandmarks.
  14. 14. Comprehensive but Compact:Pros:The book is comprehensive in the sense that it has covered all the relevant facts andanalysis to the requirement of the subject matter. And at the same time you will find thebook is compact in the sense that it has not given unnecessary stuffs to mesmerize thereaders but let him think and interpret.Cons:In order to make the book comprehensive on the subject, author has sacrificescompactness in some section of the book. Like when we study about ‘paths’.Reference to Relevant Details:Pros:In effective writing, reference to relevant details is necessary. The annexure of the bookand the bibliography will tell the story in detail. The data used in the book has been wellreferenced. The author has used superscripts to denote the references.The Appendices to the book offers more practical application of the approachesdiscussed in the main part of the work. Some References to Orientation are provided,including discussion of the Types of Reference Systems, Formation of the Image, TheRole of Form, and the Disadvantages of Imageability. The Use of the Method expandsupon “The Method” as the Basis of Design, and proposes Directions for Future Research.Cons:Use of superscripts is now a day more out dated. It distracts the readers.Lucid Style:The book is presented in a lucid style. It has logical and systematic arrangement ofdifferent parts. It is easily and clearly understandable by all those for whom it is meant.
  15. 15. It creates interest among readers because of its lucid and convincing style. Clearthinking, objective tone and logical arrangement of thoughts have made the booksimple and lucid.Readable:Pros:In terms of what makes for good writing, readability is about the basic ability of a readerto make sense of what is written. And I think the author that done justice with thereaders. The use of grammar and simple English has made the book more readable tothe students of planning, architecture, design and urban affairs.Cons:Introduction of new terms and giving new meanings to the old words make an averagereader confused. For Example see, he give ‘District’ a new meaning by defining areaswith perceived internal homogeneity- "are medium-to-large sections of the city,conceived of as having two-dimensional extent, which the observer mentally enters‘inside of,’ and which are recognizable as having some common identifying character"Concrete:The author has put his ideas in a concrete manner through the examples of the threecities. In order to put concrete facts and figures, the author has not deviated fromkeeping the writing style in intimate manner and you can say this is an intensification ofthe old “show, don’t tell” rule – powerful writing doesn’t just show, it shows in real-world ways that are easily approachable. The book is real example of this style.Concise:Pros:The author has written the paragraphs in a concise manner to make the interpretationeasy. He has kept he paragraphs relative smaller which adds to the breakup of ideas intosegments so that the readers don’t get confused or bored.
  16. 16. Cons:Author cannot be concise in explaining a new concept. And we can find that when heintroduces concepts of imageability he breaks the norms of being concise.Correctness:The book is written in generally correct Standard English, with complete sentences, andbe relatively error-free.Let’s look at a paragraph from book and analyse it.ParagraphsPros:Paragraphs are small and medium sized with ten to twenty lines. Most of theparagraphs are limited to a particular topic. Spaces have been provided to distinguishbetween the main paragraph and sub-paragraphs.Cons:Some explanatory paragraphs are large and readers feel intimidating.Now let’s look at a paragraph.An environmental image may be analyzed into three components: identity, structure,and meaning. It is useful to abstract these for analysis, if it is remembered that in realitythey always appear together. A workable image requires first the identification of anobject, which implies its distinction from other things, its recognition as a separableentity. This is called identity, not in the sense of equality with something else, but withthe meaning of individuality or oneness. Second, the image must include the spatial orpattern relation of the object to the observer and to other objects. Finally, this objectmust have some meaning for the observer, whether practical or emotional. Meaning isalso a relation, but quite a different one from spatial or pattern relation.Thus, an image useful for making an exit requires the recognition of a door as a distinctentity, of its spatial relation to the observer, and its meaning as a hole for getting out.These are not truly separable. The visual recognition of a door is matted together with itsmeaning as a door. It is possible, however, to analyze the door in terms of its identity ofform and clarity of position, considered as if they were prior to its meaning.
  17. 17. Here, you can see that it is a paragraph broken into two subparts to make the readingand interpretation easy simultaneously. The paragraph starts with some enlisting thecomponents of an image and then subsequently; author illustrate the concept in a lucidmanner. He further re-enforces his views through an example of very common naturebut illustrated in a manner to suit the requirement.PunctuationsThere is good use of punctuations in the book.Abbreviations and AcronymsFew or no use of abbreviations is a good quality of good writing.ConclusionsOverall the book is well written and the author has applied most of the writing stylesand techniques in the good manner to produce a masterpiece in the field of theplanning literature.Shashikant Nishant SharmaSNSharma.SPA@gmail.com

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