The Sensual Experience

I've been reading it for just over a week and already completely enamoured with Spacing Wire. The most recent post from this fresh, thoughtful Toronto blog piggybacks nicely on Friday's post on dreamscapes. In it, Adam writes about Allan B. Jacobs' 1985 book Looking at Cities, which suggests (among other things) that walking is the best way to experience a neighborhood.

Re-purposing a Jacobs quote used in Adam's post: "Walking allows the observer to be in the environment with no barriers between the eyes and what is seen. The sensual experience — noises, smells, even the feel of things — is a real part of walking. There is more than you can take in: sights, sounds, smells, wondering what it might be like to live there, what it used to be like, and much more. It is an exciting, heady business."

So here's the part where several recent posts all fall together. The (Still) Made Hereseries looked at ways that neighborhoods could promote themselves effectively. So to follow up on that, how does a neighborhood convince visitors to return -- or, better yet, relocate -- once they're there? How do you make the walk worth the while?

Guerilla gardening, or just gardening in general, is one way. While urban front yards are miniscule compared to their suburban counterparts, they can greatly enhance both the house they front and the surrounding neighborhood when used effectively as a compact, colorful garden. In neighborhoods without yards, other assets can be highlighted. For an architecturally rich area, a group could post free audio walking tours as mp3s online. Ethnic or cultural enclaves could set up cross-promotional networks between businesses and organizations that add to the neighborhood's cultural cache. This could both strengthen the local business community (hopefully visually) and encourage pedestrians to continue exploring other spots that add to the local flavor.

There are plenty of ways to make a neighborhood exciting and fun to explore, which is the key to attracting people from other parts of the city (and beyond.) They key is to get visitors to slow down and take the time to experience what Jacobs refers to as "the sensual experience" of the place.

(Photo from Flickr user toshimaguy.)

Looking at cities (Spacing Wire)

Looking at Cities (the book, @ Amazon)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting post, and cool blog.

good links too -- it's affirming to see more on collective urban re-design.

if you care to add to the guerrilla gardening links, there's a book just out on the topic called "guerrilla gardening: a manualfesto."

i would tell you how fabulous it is but then i would be biased since i also wrote it...