Place mapping, social values and territorial planning: the role of socio-spatial knowledge in spatial planning of urban environment
Although the development of ITC and GIS enables to build extremely computationally powerful, complex and dynamic models of city partly grounded in and supported by studies on human spatial cognition, most of them have overlooked or neglected the role of attitudes and values having a high predictive value or simulate the spatial behaviour and explain preferences in urban environment.
Several recent studies indicate that spatial/physical structures in the narrower sense are not sufficient to generate coherent cognitive representations of external environment. Spatial memory seems to represent blends of spatial and social properties (events, people, emotions) and organize these spatial representations of place employing functional and social attributes including physical safety and spatial preferences.
This paper examines the impact of social knowledge on the acquisition of spatial knowledge in urban environment. Youth (age 12-17; n=2133) – living in Riga (the capital of Latvia) were surveyed. To acquire data reflecting cognitive representations of urban environment we applied a social value mapping task developed by Tyrvainen et al. (2007).
The analysis of data shows that people attach social values to places when they mentally generate spatial representations of external environment. This process depends on factors such as familiarity with particular urban area, socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics of subject.
Our findings provide an example how mapping of socio-spatial knowledge can elicit mental representations of external environment. Acquistion of spatial knowledge is co-determined by social and emotional context of place as well as individual characteristics. That enables us to generalize that people, emotions, preferences, feelings and values have to be a crucial part of any coherent dynamic model of urban environment.