The Image of the City | Study Guide

Kevin Lynch

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Course Hero. "The Image of the City Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Oct. 2020. Web. 2 Oct. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Image-of-the-City/>.

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Course Hero. "The Image of the City Study Guide." October 12, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Image-of-the-City/.

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Course Hero, "The Image of the City Study Guide," October 12, 2020, accessed October 2, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Image-of-the-City/.

The Image of the City | Chapter 4 : City Form | Summary

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Summary

Lynch discusses imageability or the ease with which the people who live and work there in a city can picture it accurately. He discusses the importance of balance between aesthetics and function. An element of the city should have form as well as function. He argues that the five physical elements of path, edge, district, node, and landscape are the building blocks of a city but must be executed thoughtfully and skillfully. The visual impact of these elements should be pleasing to the eye and serve a function.

Lynch lists 10 attributes of urban design that work together to create harmony and aesthetically pleasing spaces. They are singularity, form simplicity, continuity, dominance, clarity of joint, directional differentiation, visual scope, motion awareness, time series, and names and meanings. These 10 attributes must create balance and structure in order for people to use them to navigate the city in pleasing ways. They are all important to the overall aesthetic and function of a city. Each element can be observed separately from the others but none of them should be neglected when designing cityscapes.

Analysis

Lynch again emphasizes the importance of characteristics working together to create a desired effect in the city. One well-executed element is not enough to create a pleasing and functional city. Lynch lists the 10 attributes of urban design which are singularity, form simplicity, continuity, dominance, clarity of joint, directional differentiation, visual scope, motion awareness, time series, and names and meanings. Each attribute is as important as the others, and city planners need to keep all of these elements in mind when planning cities. Missing or botching one of these 10 attributes could ruin the rest of them because they are interdependent and connected. Until Lynch's research the physical attributes of a city were considered separately from each other and often to the detriment of the city.

Lynch lists the 10 attributes that comprise the beauty and function of urban features. He describes elements of geometric form and notes the importance of simplicity and symmetry. He also states that clear edges, joints, and continuity of lines are important elements to a pleasing design that also function as distinctive features to help city dwellers perceive their surroundings. Lynch comments that a sense of motion and a sense of time are important navigational and functional elements. Sense of time and motion allow the observer to understand where paths are leading or the historical context of a city and its architecture. Sense of time and sense of motion provide charm that makes the city memorable compared to other locations. Names and meaning can also provide charm and individuality by connecting important landmarks or nodes to historical or regional characters.

City planners in Boston failed to consider the ways new buildings or districts would fit in with other architecture from the city's past. Boston became a city with districts that are jarring together and create dissonance in the visual aesthetic and functionality of the city. Lynch's observation serves as a warning to future city planners. The city must be considered a whole unit. City planners should consider how their proposed changes contribute to the functionality of the whole city and not a singular area within the city.

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