Walk leaders: Daniel Capo, Flavia De Girolamo, Maria Sole Benigni
The Jane’s Walk in Viterbo focused on the Santa Barbara district, a suburban area in which residents have been struggling to defend an empty green space. Every participant seemed enthusiastic about the walk and took an active part in discussing the theories of Kevin Lynch.
Kevin Lynch, an American urban planner and professor at M.I.T, wrote The Image of the City (1960), one of the most important pieces of research introducing a new way of thinking about the urban form of a city. Lynch’s core concept was the legibility of built environments and how easily parts of a cityscape can be organized into recognizable patterns.
Lynch identified five key elements that make up an individual’s perception of the city: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. We used his theory to understand the Santa Barbara district through mental mapping of the streets. The objective was to start thinking differently about our city and about the different practices that exist within urban spaces.
Rather than emphasizing the traditional way we learn about cities through maps and plans, we focused on the way that people in this area use and perceive their physical environment. Participants were free to draw or write during the walk describing the mental map or the strengths and weaknesses of the district, and were encouraged to imagine a different use for public spaces.
Our goal was to create a final, collaborative mental map of the Santa Barbara district. This allowed us to discover a new urban geography–something different from the one proposed by traditional spatial analyses. Our map became a dialogue between spaces, places and people.
We prepared this final map for an event during the Cartografie dell’Immaginario exhibition by Librimmaginari (Viterbo, June 2015), produced in collaboration with Cantieri D’arte and Laboratorio Urbano Quotidiano. We published our mental map of Santa Barbara along with a DIY book which contained all the other maps sketched by participants.