Experience From Manmade Structures And Human Satisfaction Cultural Studies Essay

Experience from Manmade Structures and human Satisfaction

Student: Constantinos Pavlou

History and Theory of the City ARCH-301

Lecturer: Elenore Zippelius

January 21, 2013

Introduction: Kevin Lynch: Notes on City Satisfaction >psychological + sensual effects of the city.

Hypothesis: Cities are complex, layered manifestations of time + place. They can therefore provide the very basic human need of a strong self – identity which is based also on a strong sense of place.

How is the city structured? How is the city perceived?

Master plans

layers of networks

neighbourhoods/urban districts

provide a structure

clear, but


guidance for positive change

public benefit in

long / short term

complex + layered manifestation of urban form through time

city – collage of fragmented objects (from architect + urban history)

elements unique but varied

urban artifacts that withstand the passage of time

serial vision

What is place identity or sense of place / and personal identity of collective memory.

Place identity


Sense of here + there

Collective memory

Quality of place:

order + focus

human intentions,

Experience and actions spatially.


Related to



Experience from Manmade Structures and human Satisfaction

Journals on cities are concerned with the functional effects of city life on the human being, relating the urban experience and activities found in a complex city in relation to the citizens. In this essay I will clarify the sources and mechanisms of city satisfaction. This will be based on my personal understanding and concept of urban experience, how residents and analysts see the city, I investigate the city features affecting it and the overall city satisfaction. A working city should provide a sense of convenience and health, physical or mental, and a sense of borders (somewhere porous or solid boundaries) and there openness, I see how objects affect them and finally satisfy someone. Findings show that systems and limits affect city satisfaction both directly and indirectly by the experience in a city. Amenities are considered and grasped when planning for city layout, density and uniformity or relation between spaces. The effects differ between the types (cultural background) and age groups of people.

Supporting the idea and experience of living in cities cannot be described only in terms of density or identical codes between cities. Features, such as basic and symbolic qualities shape the urban experience and city satisfaction through different parallel co working mechanisms and systems.

• How is a city structured? How is a city perceived?

Master plans of cities are built up in layers of networks that root off in different groups (clusters) or areas. These clusters make up the neighbourhoods or certain areas and districts of a city. Of course cities are not planned or designed as a single whole; the paths, the edges, the districts, the nodes and the landmarks are what make the five city major elements. Cities are built and changed through a long course of time. A pleasant community is a clear but flexible structure for the guidance of positive change and public benefit in a city. The city plan considers long-term and short-term outcome for a neighbourhood. Community planning helps Cities broaden objectives established for the entire city and regions, but still recognize the specific issues and advantages of each area.

The world’s major cities have a gradual development through time, layers and different financial phases in time make up these cities. Technology and materiality depends on the financial level and cultural or political state of the cities; this is clearly reflected on the city layers through time.

For example, Melbourne’s Central Business District the capital of Victoria is uniformly laid out in a grid pattern that is made up of multiple central city suburbs, which are clusters of grids that surround the central grid (Melbourne) area. Each surrounding grid suburb has its own distinct flavour with different uses and each one has a major node (grounds or structures) that completes the city. Different businesses, dwellings and groups of people live and work there which complete it to its whole.

The city layers go back to the early 19th century, which was once a home to the indigenous Australians before the Europeans discovery and settlement in 1770. [1] Melbourne's tram network is the second largest in the world and is the only one remaining out of all Australian cities. Its tram network is constantly extending out to the suburbs and the new developing areas. The city is also known for its classic 1950s tourist trams contrasting with the cities new high-tech trams. Flinders street station, one of the world’s busiest and longest railway stations brings in a constant flow of pedestrians into the heart of the city, here we can see how major cities work as a node at a macro scale for the surrounding suburbs. Melbourne's wide city roads reflect back to when the tram system started its operation in 1885 since the early years of the city.

Melbourne is one of the youngest of all worlds’ major cities, but has a strong financial, sporting and cultural history. The phenomenal growth of Melbourne in the 1850s till the 1880s was due to one of the biggest gold rush in the world’s history, which brought in a huge flood of migrants that is reflected on the architecture of the historical buildings in the city. Melbourne is home to one of largest Greek populations in the world and it is rated as one of the world's most multicultural cities, this can clearly be distinguished in certain areas of the city where you can smell, see and hear the Greek and Italian cultural vibe.

As Aldo Rossi states; "The most important task of humanity on earth is the creation of the city." [2] Complex and layered manifestations of urban forms through time are the results from decisions of various groups of people. Cities or small neighbourhoods are not only designed by professionals; Engineers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers and so-on, but locals also play a big role on the design of the layers and forms. Using their knowledge and reading the existing pattern language they are able to reflect it to the new or existing urban scape, always allowing flexibility for future change and various activities.

Christopher Alexander in his book "The Timeless Way of Building" states that no group of people can create a work of art, or anything which is whole, since different people pull in different directions, and make the end product a compromise which has no strength. The use of a shared pattern language solves these problems. As we shall now see, a group of people who use a common pattern language can make a design together just as well as a single person can within his mind. [3] 

Planning a new urban city with respect to the world’s current state we must not only look at the morphology of the layout and the language of patterns. We must take into account the carbon pollutants in our cities and allow for long and short term on-going change. Guidance for positive change for a low carbon emitting city, this is one major key factor in today’s city satisfaction.

In a UN Habitat global report on human settlement that was made in 2011 it is mentioned that the world’s cities are responsible for up to 70 per cent of harmful greenhouse gases while occupying just 2 per cent of its land. It is also mentioned that what goes on in cities, and how they manage their impact on the environment, lies at the core of the problem. It is the combination of urbanization’s fast pace and the demand for development that poses the major threat. Joan Clos Executive Director of UN-HABITAT is quoted saying "Cities are responsible for the majority of our harmful greenhouse gases. But they are also places where the greatest efficiencies can be made. This makes it imperative that we understand the form and content of urbanization so that we can reduce our footprint, understanding the contribution of cities to climate change will help us intervene at the local level. With better urban planning and greater citizen participation we can make our hot cities cool again." [4] 

In other words we have come to realize that the industrial revolution in today’s cities is actually starting to kill us.

Top of Form

• What is place identity or sense of place/ and personal identity of collective memory?

"What happens in a world, building or a town in which the patterns have the quality without a name and are alive? The most important thing which happens is that every part of it, at every level, becomes unique. The patterns which control a portion of the world are themselves fairly simple. But when they interact, they create slightly different overall configurations at every place. This happens because no two places on earth are perfectly alike in their conditions. And each small difference, itself contributes to the difference in conditions which the other patterns face." [5] 

All our senses are stimulated when we first visit a new City; we tend to frame certain areas, spaces or objects in our minds and attach the images with the other pleasant or unpleasant senses that were roused during our visual experience. Orientation of physical forms has a clear relation between the city and the observer. Strong organised visible or felt directional lines humanly intended to guide one through the city paths. The city is a complex and layered manifestation of urban form. The introduction of an alien in discussion with the city is read as a two-dimensional collage made up of varied fragmented objects that the architectural and urban history has left behind. Where the collaged elements vary and are unique they seem encapsulated from the rest.

Walking the cities whether it is moving up on the hierarchy or down along the cities patterns one comes to realise the city is made up of multiple elements that make up the roots through the cities grid. The buildings, the pavements, the roads that make up the cities grid guide you through various phases of certain areas of the city. For example, the traffic on the roads make up the boundaries between the both edges of the road. The building facades create the passages framing the visual experience that associate to the timing and location on ones timeline of experiences.

Having levels in the height of the ground creates the feeling of a closed area or the feeling of exclusion from the rest (Rockefeller Centre NY, Irish Hunger Memorial NY). With levels in the ground the spaces importance is highlighted just as well as having a fountain or a statue (monument). "Optical mechanics" puts limits (border) on free open space by outlining the ground to avoid perceptual disorientation (textures on the path). Buildings and urban fabric is vitally important for orientation and design to bring some sort of order out of the chaos that makes up the city.

Urban area interactivity varies through the course of the day; the pathways, the pavements, the parks and etc. make up most of the daily activities of the urban city. By night a city transforms into a more concentric layout of activities with its bright lights highlighting these areas or distinctively highlighted if more private for its closed group of customers.

Walking through a cityscape for the first time typically around areas like parks you tend to find interlinking shops or quick stops for snacks that associate with the areas activities. Or along river banks you find a row of restaurants and cafes, it is clear what is in one’s interest when it is time to relax or dose off while having a break from the cities work tempo. Along major cities like Yara River in Melbourne, Sydney Harbour, Battery Park in New York City and along River Thames in London you tend to come across a group of shop fronts or restaurant/cafe facades. This clearly shows the cities livelihood.

The key importance of significant forms of spaces or areas is topographical and spatial that makes up the character of the structure. Once in these spaces the observer is oriented with this spaces exterior or perimeter.

Reference List / Bibliography

Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, A Pattern Language (Oxford University Press, 1977)

Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building (Oxford University Press, 1979)

Gordon Cullen, The Concise Townscape (Architectural Press; Reprint edition March 24, 1995)

Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City (MIT Press; New edition, 1984)

Colin Rowe, Fred Koetter, Collage City (MIT Press; new edition 1978)