Published by Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at University of Greenwich, London

Perception, Form & Landscape

In the context of postmodern ideology, urban landscape understood as a spatial form or as a system or a structure of spatial forms, which perceived by the senses and the explanatory ability of man. Representative examples of this theory are the equally famous works of Kevin Lynch “The Image of the City” (1960) 1 and Gordon Cullen, “The Concise Townscape2, which, although in the 60s, influenced deeply perceptions of the design of urban landscape over the coming decades until today.

Lynch brings image-form of city as a central design issue and proposes to improve the image of urban space through the thorough analysis and optimization of individual components 1 and spatial relationships that develop between them. He underlines that the structure and form of a city are transformed continuously without reaching a final result.

Both Lynch and Cullen argued that the landscape of the city acquires form through the change itself and specifically through relationships of structural, spatial elements and the interaction between them, the memory of the past experiences and mainly by human activity within this. Regarding the latter, special attention is placed on mobility, to the extent that the landscape is understood in a succession of phases through movement. Especially Cullen highlights the important role of visual sequence (serial vision) of images of the urban environment for the perception of moving, and the importance of visual “revelation” during movement 2 in a typical example of analysis – for the European cities at least – urban route shows the sequential images recruited along and points out a sense of enclosure or exposure – intensified by the dramatic changes of light – and the power simultaneous juxtaposition of different elements of the site or the sudden “revelation” in the eyes of the beholder. He argues that the proper handling of the visible elements of the built environment through scale, texture, colour, individual character, personality and uniqueness can (and should) have an emotional impact on moving space.

Both researchers focused substantially in visual form only and the uptake by humans in a purely subjective way. This is a more formalistic approach of the space in a structuralist line thought, which weakens the multiple dimensions of the urban landscape, such as social, economic, ecological, etc., without of course the alter.


1 Lynch, K. (1960), (1994), The Image of the City, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., London.

2 Cullen, G. (1966), The Concise Townscape, University Press, Cambridge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: