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Seeing, Believing, and Feeling: The Relationship between Sense of Place and Geovisualization Research

Advancements in GIS and media technologies have created opportunities for developing realistically and geographically-accurate representations of the environment that can be recognized and related to as "real places." In turn, these "geovisualizations" can connect with the meanings, values, beliefs and/or feelings people associate with places, i.e., their "sense of place," which positions them as powerful place-based tools for inclusive and collaborative environmental management efforts. However, despite their place-based applications, geovisualization studies rarely explicitly incorporate place theories and concepts. This lack of integration is reflected in the current state of knowledge, as much of geovisualization research has advanced knowledge on technological capacity for processing and rendering images from spatial data, whereas knowledge on how people interact with and use these tools in collaborative management strategies has lagged behind. This research effort serves as a move toward addressing this knowledge gap by explicitly illustrating the relationship between sense of place and applications of geovisualizations in collaborative management. This work employs ideas from research on human-media interactions and conceptual models from research on sense of presence to synthesize a coherent theory on how geovisualizations can function as place-based tools. In addition, through a review of landscape visualization studies, this work provides evidence of that geovisualizations can operate as place-based tools, and this evidence includes observations on these tools’ capabilities for communicating "meaningful information" on places, eliciting responses reflective of particular place-based values, and evoking emotional responses associated with places.

Light and the Manifestation of Performance Place: The Experience of Spaces and Places through a Different Light

Through the practice-based lens of the “Night in the Garden” at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2014) this paper explores how environments, both built and green, can become something powerfully augmented in the regeneration of cities and towns, and introduces the human experience of unexpected events as an affordance of access and belonging. In the last two decades the explosion of the light festival as a global phenomenon has created a new night-time language of temporary performance. Our urban environments are straining to develop unique visual representations that have driven a new kind of tourism. The alien performances that play out across our urban centres bring a return to the joy of the unique and the carnivalesque and are situated within the environments that we recognise so differently during the day. This creative practice-led perspective supported exploration of audience engagement and asked questions of how personal and shared experiences are generated and broadcast, while recognising this approach as part of a wider place-making phenomena, where visual culture awakens sleeping spaces. The urban domain is a canvas for storytelling open to change each time the festival rolls into town, where physical structures remain unaltered, but our perceptions of them become reanimated.

Mapping Urban Interfaces: A Typology of Public/Private Interfaces in Informal Settlements

Urban interfaces play a key role in enabling the different forms of social and economic exchange and the ways in which open space is contested and appropriated in informal settlements. Many upgrading practices involve a transformation of public/private interfaces. The transition between public and private territories is one of the critical issues in planning, urban design, and architecture that has the capacity to enable or constrain exchange and production. This paper develops a typology for analysing and mapping public/private interfaces in informal settlements. Drawing on the evidence from multiple case studies of informal settlements in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America, a typology of six interface types is introduced based on the criteria of proximity and connectivity. The study is informed by direct observation, visual recordings, and urban mapping to shed light on the ways in which urban interfaces work in informal settlements.

Where Gender Comes to the Fore: Mapping Gender Mix in Urban Public Spaces

The study engages with the ways in which gender mix plays out in public spaces as a key issue in exploring social diversity and vitality of the urban public life. The paper introduces a mapping method to unravel how gender differences are spatially manifested in urban public spaces. Thus, urban mapping has been considered as a method for producing a kind of spatial knowledge that has the capacity to shed light on how different socio-spatial patterns play out in public open spaces. The proposed mapping method documents where and the extent to which female and male users appropriate urban public spaces. The database for developing and testing the proposed method emerges from two site areas in the city of Tehran. In doing so, the study draws upon direct observation, fieldwork notes, visual recording, and urban mapping as research methods. In this way, the paper raises questions about the importance of gender mix in public space and the ways in which mapping has the capacity to inform urban research.

Energy Scenario Modelling in Developing Countries: A Collaborative Computer-based Tool Using Tangible Interfaces

Developing countries face different challenges for future electrical energy planning than developed countries. In particular, rural areas suffer from lack of energy supply, which is due to missing transmission infrastructure, influence of foreign players, and capitalization of energy production resources through export. In this paper, we highlight this situation by the case of Ethiopia, one of the least developed countries worldwide. So far, Ethiopia’s energy strategy is mainly based on hydropower, with major projects under construction. However, these projects are unlikely to support rural areas, and in addition have already sparked international controversy due to the substantial ecological impact. In order to obtain a better understanding of which alternative pathways may be feasible, we offer a new planning methodology based on an interactive and collaborative computer-based tool. The tool allows the exploration of different scenarios that include alternative energy sources such as wind power and photovoltaics. Our tool addresses the gap between current policy debates that will shape the development path of the country and existing energy modeling tools. Most existing tools are sophisticated but seem less adequate for developing countries in terms of scope and basic assumptions. By addressing these shortcomings, we present a tool that takes the specific properties of emerging energy markets into account and allows exploring the impact of various policy decisions in a collaborative way without assuming the presence of perfect markets or ubiquitous infrastructure. The tool does not require expert knowledge and can be made available easily to decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public as we demonstrated at the Addis2050 conference in Addis Ababa in 2012.