A Framework for Understanding Sense of Place in an Urban Design Context

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Hu, M.; Chen, R. A Framework for Understanding Sense of Place in an Urban Design Context. Urban Sci. 2018, 2, 34.


Creating a sense of place and community is a guiding principle in designing livable and high-quality built environments. This paper presents a framework for understanding the relationship between design and people’s perceptions about a place, within an urban design context. While a large volume of literature on sense of place (SOP) already exists, the proposed framework and its application in the design field present a unique opportunity to add new knowledge to this interdisciplinary topic. This research will investigate the empirical relationship between architecture/urban design and people’s perceptions about a place and their contributions to SOP. Urban designers and architects play important and determining roles in defining the physical qualities and the characteristics of a place. However, it has always been challenging to quantify the relationship between a physical environment and a person’s emotional experience. Three urban sites were analyzed to illustrate this framework, and four physical characteristics and four perceptual qualities were cross-investigated and analyzed. This proposed framework will help architects and urban designers to gain a better understanding of SOP and placemaking techniques, eventually helping to improve urban design quality.