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

1,* and 2
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland, 3835 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Urban Sci. 2018, 2(2), 34;
Received: 24 February 2018 / Revised: 5 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 13 April 2018
PDF [26192 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: sense of place; physical environment; perceptual quality; placemaking; urban design sense of place; physical environment; perceptual quality; placemaking; urban design

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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.

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