Read the City.
This exercise revolved around investigating an urban environment and highlighting various elements within it. Kevin Lynch’s 5 elements of an Urban Environment; Paths, Edges, Nodes, Landmarks and Districts, were key elements analysed, however, secondary elements such as limits were also investigated.
The task required me to walk through the city, from QUT Gardens Point to the Story Bridge, taking any path which i pleased and stopping at various point along the was to record key happenings and views in the form of 4-5 sketches. The path that i followed and the point at which i stopped to record a view are shown on the map below.
I chose to take the above route as it was fairly straightforward and provided an almost uninterrupted view of the final destination throughout, which i though would be useful for this exercise. I also liked the fact that there was some form of interaction with the river along the entire length of the path, and thought that recording this at various times may yield some interesting results.
The first point that i stopped was close to the Northern end of the Botanical Gardens. Here i found a large black, metal sculpture which caught my attention as it stood out within its green, natural surroundings. The location of the artwork, which was close to the river also provided an opportunity to highlight various edges, paths and limits within one small area. The sketch taken at this point along with various key elements within it are shown in the two images below.
Although seemingly bare, the above sketch provides a reasonably large amount of information about the environment. It indicates that there are 2 different edges, one between the grass and the path and another between the path and the river, there is a limit, which is the river, a landmark in the sculpture and a node, in the shaded area created by the large trees. It could also be perceived that the area to the left of the path is a district, however, indicating this within the sketch was found to be messy and somewhat unnecessary.
The second point at which i stopped to record a view was as i began my journey along the Eagle Street walkway. I chose this location as it provided a great view of what lay between me and the final destination as well as a view of the bridge itself. The view also provided a chance to highlight a number of landmarks and the different nature of the two river banks.
Although similar to the previous image in terms of the fact that this one is reasonably bare, it still provides a useful amount of information about the urban environment. It makes the size of the river more evident as well as its interaction with the city. It highlights a number of landmarks that stand along the way to the bridge, as well as the contrast between the built up north bank of the river and the less developed southern bank. It also provides a view towards the next location, which was at Eagle Street pier, the smaller building that is highlighted in purple on the left of the image.
As mentioned above, the third location was outside an eatery at Eagle Street Pier. This location demonstrated a change in use of the riverfront as well as an interesting relationship between various spaces. It also illustrated a more developed and built up environment that the two previous sketches.
As highlighted above, there are a number of edges and diverse spaces within the sketch. The path, highlighted in green, is used as an exercise track, by runners and cyclist, but is also simply a route between various spaces in the area, such as the various cafes and restaurants and the city-cat terminal. There are both perceived and physical edges within the sketch, with the river and the guardrail creating the physical edge and the step up to the eatery creating more of a perceived edge than a physical one. Although the step itself is physical, the edge itself is more of a perceived element within the environment, as it separates the oath from the restaurant and creates a clear partition in the space, which is otherwise open. The sketch also highlights nodes within the eatery as this would be a place where people may stop along their journey and linger for a time. The reflection of the Story bridge in the window also helps to relate this sketch to the previous ones and the ones to follow.
The fourth point along the walk which caught my attention was a point along the riverfront boardwalk which provided a great view of the Howard Smith Wharves and the and closer view of the story bridge and its structural elements.
The above sketch was found to be bursting with information and key elements about the urban environment. Again, the limit of the river is prominent, however, the two key elements within the image are the bridge and the Howard Smith Wharves buildings. Both could be labelled as landmarks, and are well known locations within the city. The edge between the Wharves and the river is particularly interesting as it is not clearly defined. The sketch also gives an idea of the immense change in levels and the size of the cliff that stands behind the wharves.
The fifth and final point along the walk, was an interesting piece of artwork at the northern end of the riverside boardwalk. It was at this point the boardwalk came to an end as the portion further up had been damaged and destroyed by the 2011 floods.
The fifth and final image is different to the others in the fact that it does not show any of the river. However, there are still a number of edges present, those being on either side of the path. The left of the path illustrates a limit, which took the form of a substantial drop in levels from the path and the surrounding area. The large arch that spans across the sketch was an interesting pieces of artwork and could be labeled as a landmark as it is unique and memorable within the space. There is a node located at one end of the arch, where a bench is located and two paths intersect.
As a whole, i found the exercise to be very useful and beneficial in advancing my skills in terms of analysing and readings an urban environment. Walking through the city with the intention of noticing Lynch’s 5 elements, made me realise and notice things that i had never seen before and highlighting various elements in the sketches also had the same effect.
Highlighting Lynch’s 5 elements within an urban environment makes it very easy to read the key features of a space and the relationship between them. Representing an urban environment in this way can help to understand its uses, its restrictions and its potential in terms of development opportunities.