on April 30, 2001
The urban setting is a composition of nodes, landmarks, paths, edges and districts, accorsing to Lynch. This physical summary of urban landscape may not be satisfactory for some. However, for others, including me, this book is a great help in forming a design perspective at the city level. It does not matter at all if you have just started forming your perspective or working on the final details. The book should be in your library, and the design guidelines should be in your mind, not only when designing a peace of urban space, but also when you are just wondering around.
on December 22, 1999
This book describes mental maps obtained from residents in several cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Jersey City. The mental maps were materialized on paper through an interview process and combined with maps from many individuals. And the results are surprising. Each map is a composite image of the city (and hence, the book's title) that reveals not only the character of the place, but gives you a feeling for it. In Boston for example, the streets are very disorganized, so people give directions by using landmarks almost exclusively. On the other hand, in Jersey City, with extremely uniform architecture, directions are given by street number and points of the compass. An unusual discovery concerns very long streets in Boston. They appear on the map with missing sections - these sections are totally invisible to the people interviewed. In many cases individuals were unaware that Washington street in one neighborhood is a continuation of Washington Street in another neighborhood. These blind spots affect how people move around, it affects the directions they give to others and it contributes or reinforces fears they may have about certain neighborhoods. The book moves from these maps and observations and tries to develop rules of thumb for urban design. People feel more comfortable and perhaps more anchored if they know where they are in space and in relation to visible landmarks. Some cities provide this comfort level more effectively than others - this book tries to find root causes. It's no wonder this is a classic.
on September 10, 1998
Kevin Lynch descibes the visual attributes of cities and towns, paying special attention to how we find our way around, how we build a mental image of these places. It is not only relevant to city dwellers, but to anyone interested in the subject of creating communities, real or virtual. A truly wonderful book, with lots of insightful drawings and images. Highly recommended.