Stirred by the latest research findings on spatial sense and decision-making machinery of slime molds and the rename of Facebook to Meta, the author discusses human’s ability of spatial cognition. Compared with human’s indifferent trial-and-error approaches, slime molds are not inferior to humans in ability of spatial perception and design. Similarly, both slime molds and human beings pursue a balanced beauty under their desire and instinct for survival, in forms of colony shapes and spatial design, respectively. Inspired by the slime mold experiment, the author concerns that in the virtual reality of Metaverse promoted by Facebook, human culture depending on the place, space, and time may disappear, and city image will be erased as well; If geographical constraints no longer exist, do human activities still have meaning? This now is a new challenge to urban and landscape design.
The knowledge integration of Cognitive Sciences and other related fields supports the rethinking of environmental aesthetic experience. Compared with the explicit logical reasoning, aesthetic judgment is an implicit way for the brain to process information based on personal instincts or experiences. As a rapid information processing of the environment, the experiencing of beauty facilitates individuals’ cognition of environmental information and their prompt making of beneficial behaviors for survival. Compared with human’s instinctive love to the nature (or biophilia), our attitude and preference towards natural landscapes is more complicated. Seemingly complex environmental perceptions can be simplified and measured promoting corresponding research and designs. Meanwhile, the multidisciplinary integration provides insights for technologies including Artificial Intelligence and helps people obtain external information through different input channels. In this issue, LA Frontiers attempts to encourage researchers to explore a more profound understanding of environmental perception. The combination of scientific knowledge and technology can contribute to the creation of intelligent built environment that can actively respond to people’s needs.
Effective classification of landscape photographs is a vital step in data processing and environment analysis. With the popularity of crowdsourcing geo-information, an increasing number of studies have used geotagged photographs to visualize how people perceive and interact with destinations and explore the aesthetic, cultural, and recreational value of the areas. In recent years, machine-learning algorithms for image recognition have dramatically improved the efficiency of the assignment of keywords and provide possibilities for the automatic classification of numerous photographs. However, the applicability of such methods for the practical landscape classification is still not clear, especially for the photographs presenting a homogeneous landscape that has similar characteristics. This study developed a semi-automatic classifier for homogeneous landscape photographs by using Google Cloud Vision API and multi-level hierarchical clustering. The classifier was applied to the classification of urban riverscape photographs, which is a typical example of homogeneous landscapes in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan. The riverscapes can be classified into 9 characteristic groups by the classifier and the visual impression of these groups matches well with our intuitive feeling. A confusion matrix showed that the overall accuracy was 82.61%, indicating a strong agreement between the classifier and manual classification. Therefore, the classifier is practical for classifying homogeneous riverscape photographs. Such methodology also provides the possibility of public participation in the assessing process, which, in turn, contributes to urban tourism management.
Natural environments can provide individual cognitive benefits, and naturalness is often regarded as a valued property of environment. This research focuses on the visual perception of naturalness and investigates the impact of waterscapes of varied naturalness levels on people’s cognition, by proposing and verifying two hypotheses: 1) subjective restoration varies across waterscapes of varied naturalness levels; and 2) waterscapes of varied naturalness levels affect people’s working memory accordingly. Through a between-subjects experiment, participants in this research were randomized into three experiment groups (waterscapes of high, medium, and low naturalness level) and the control group, and the Perceived Restorative Scale and the Restoration Outcome Scale are introduced to measure the subjective restoration of the environment. The running memory accuracy, shifting cost, and Stroop task indicators are used to measure an individual’s working memory. According to the characteristics of waterscapes of varied naturalness levels summarized upon the research and the findings on the corresponding cognitive benefits, suggestions are concluded for optimizing resource allocation and investments in landscape design practice, as well as guiding visitors’ usage of waterscapes: 1) waterscapes are recommended in spatial creation for their productive cognitive benefits, if financial and ecological conditions permit; 2) in terms of cognitive benefits, waterscapes of high naturalness level are conducive to high subjective restoration and enhanced inhibition function of central executive system; 3) waterscapes of medium naturalness level can lead to a relatively high subjective restoration and improved updating function of central executive system; and 4) waterscapes of low naturalness level can bring about a better attention restoration and better performance on shifting function of central executive system.
Outdoor environments with quality landscapes can benefit people’s physical and mental health. Real-time assessment on individuals’ environmental affective experience can improve the scientism in measuring the quality of outdoor environments. Existing measurement methods are often insufficient for the cases of a larger site area or sample size. The machine visual cognition of Artificial Intelligence can realize the recognition of facial expressions and the changes in video images, which supports high-precision and long-cycle measurements on individuals’ affective experience in outdoor environments. Taking an urban community square as the study site, this research simultaneously collects participants’ facial data from video images and their electrodermal activity data, wherein Convolutional Neural Network algorithm model is trained with a deep learning algorithm, i.e. codec–SVM optimized model, whose reliability is tested through an additional experiment. The research reveals that: 1) The accuracy rate of the main and additional experiments in measuring individuals’ affective experience is 82.01% and 65.08%, respectively; 2) The additional experiment verifies the application potential of the codec–SVM optimized model; And 3) the model works more effective for outdoor scenarios with varying usage behaviors and open views. Therefore, machine visual cognition can be used for emotion measurement in a larger site area or sample size and contributes to the effectiveness of landscape optimization efforts, especially as an instrumental tool to study the affective experience of the ones who have communication or reading disability. The findings also demonstrate the model’s great potential in building Smart Cities with refined public services.
Residential green spaces are one of the most frequently used urban green space types. Aiming at filling a gap in the existing greening indicators with considerations on the spatial differences of residential green spaces, as well as to inform the improvement of urban green space service, three greening indicators, i.e. residential unit’s green coverage rate, green view index, and park ratio within a 500 m service radius, are proposed in this paper. This study selects 14,196 residential units in built area of Shenzhen City in 2017 to measure the greening rate and the geographic spatial factors of the units upon multi-sourced geographic databases such as land cover maps and street view images. The research reveals that: 1) the three indicators can all independently measure the greening rate within or around residential units; 2) the studied residential units are low in residential unit’s green coverage rate and park ratio within a 500 m service radius, but high in green view index; 3) there are significant disparities of the greening rate and the surrounding parks in 500 m service radius among the studied units, and among different housing property rights, showing a disequilibrium in green space service; and 4) the greening rate of residential units is mainly impacted by factors such as development intensity, types of housing property right, altitude, and location. In conclusion, it is suggested that urban green space layout should prioritize improving the spatial distribution and layout of residential green spaces, especially for the socially vulnerable population. Finally, the study points out that the park ratio within a 500 m service radius can be adopted as a supplement to existing greening indicators for residential areas.
Ensuring human wellbeing and promoting ecological health are two central objectives in contemporary landscape architecture practice and adaption to climate change. Cognitive sciences recognize that affect and emotion play a critical role in human decision-making. This article describes how aesthetic experiences could affect decisions that support or undermine ecological health. While the wellbeing benefits of pleasant landscape experiences have been demonstrated empirically, aesthetic experiences may or may not promote ecological health. The question of how to better align the two remains under debate and investigation. Building on the concept of cultural sustainability, this article elucidates how aesthetic experiences can be used in design tactics to encourage societal acceptance for highly functioning ecosystems that otherwise may be destroyed or resisted for their unappealing or unfamiliar appearance. With examples from China and the United States, this article illuminates how fine-scale, immediately noticeable landscape characteristics, such as “cues to care,” can change perceptual and affective responses to promote ecological health. This article invites readers to reflect on what role aesthetic experiences may play in conserving, restoring, and creating ecologically sound landscapes as we face new challenges in the urban era of climate change, and how design can help construct aesthetic experiences with immediately noticeable landscape characteristics.
Being rich in form and obscure in content, mapping brings not only new opportunities, but also confusion and doubts to the research and practice of contemporary complex landscapes. Therefore, deep exploration of mapping’s function, logic, and mechanism in inspiring design is needed to help recognize the value of Mapping and promote its understanding and application. Through literature review, case studies, and the authors’ practice and teaching, this article attempts to answer three questions: Which function does Mapping emphasize, representation or exploration? What is the logic of mapping in arranging information? And what is the mechanism of mapping in inspiring design? The main conclusions of this article include: 1) Rather than viewer-oriented representation, mapping more often serves the cartographers themselves in their exploration activities, in which they develop new understandings and create new possibilities while constructing the complex relationship of existing information; 2) Despite the various forms, media, and methods, mapping’s logical structures in organizing information would converge into five types: sequence, matrix, parallel, network, and deconstruction reflecting to various degrees the logic of complex landscapes themselves; And 3) through collecting and connecting information and ideas with certain logical frameworks, mapping helps with bottom-up generation of cognition and design of the site, which provides a visual operation carrier that reflects the site’s structures and evolutionary processes. Applying mapping in teaching and practice can promote designers’ cognition on structures and processes of complex landscapes and get rid of the dogma of following standardized workflows or imposed cultural symbols.
The lately published The City of Imagination by Valerio Morabito challenges the pictorial idea of landscape interpretation and explores the possibilities of storytelling to read and represent the landscape that focuses on the literary and communicative aptitudes of Landscape Architecture. The article reviews the book from the perspective of history, epistemology, method, and reception regarding its literary root, which is notably inspired by Italo Calvino. The review consists of four sections: First, word and image: the historical exemplars of landscape representation between pictorial and verbal tradition. Second, memory and foresight: the authenticity of travelogue and Morabito’s method of working with his travel memories. Third, truth and myth: how Morabito applies the cognitive imperfection in storytelling to his empirical approach that counterbalances the positivist reading of the landscape. And fourth, form and language: the tension between the formal autonomy and the bardic tradition in the visual language of Morabito. The article approaches and further opens the essential dialogues between the palpable existence and fictive landscape, the interpretation and consumption of the thick meanings in human inhabitation, and the cognitive antinomy and reconciliation of positivist and humanistic stances in the discipline.
Placemaking of public open spaces, such as community parks and streetscapes that are foundational to residents’ daily social and recreational life, can significantly influence their site experience. Scholars have explored the influence of such kind of experience on users’ behavioral, physical, and mental conditions from multiple perspectives including attention restoration and stress reduction. However, the findings are seldom applied in practice to convey certain design concepts. This article introduces the landscape design project of Parkhill Commons in Shenzhen. The project team reviewed relevant research findings, and characterized the health-promoting restorative environment and social-capital-friendly communities. Accordingly, strategies for activity zones, planting design, service facilities, and slow-traffic neighborhoods were proposed to enhance site experience and serve nearby residents by creating vital and pleasant community-level public open spaces, and to maximize the social benefits and reinforce community cohesion. After completion, the project team has investigated the site usage and the public’s evaluation, in order to stimulate reflections on design strategies. Results from the questionnaire survey and field observation show the effect of placemaking strategies on users’ site experience. This article provides references for placemaking practice of community-level public open spaces and is expected to help bridge the gap between theoretical research and design practice.
City governments are embracing digital technologies to improve hard and soft urban systems, so as to create and improve urban experiences, foster an entrepreneurial city, as well as devise novel services that can improve the livability of citizens and boost the local economy. Unlike traditional infrastructure and urban systems, which tend to be natural monopolies, data-driven digital platforms can engage multiple stakeholders simultaneously. This article, introducing the notion of hybrid urban digital integrated systems, proposes a methodology aims at the integration of digital and physical elements in urban environments. We based our discussion on the work developed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab, which focused on the integration of the digital-technology-based solutions in Carré Laval of the city of Laval, Canada. As the result of the workshop, six projects have been developed by students, namely, “Activating Surface,” “Infinite memories,” “Fora,” “iTable,” “MinecARft,” and “Foodprint.”These designs aim at promoting civic engagement as intrinsic elements of the re-appropriation and redesign of this severely underutilized site. The human-centered designs rooted in specific context will help digital technologies embedded in the city and increase the attractiveness of the city to local and new stakeholders.