unravelling the signs and details that make us love or loath everyday urban spaces.




imgcloud[click image to enlage]

This image cloud shows a small selection of elements and features that might typically surround us in an urban context. We are sure there are many more not shown here, too. Let us know if there are specific other details you think we would should add.

Each of our individual reactions and consequent uses of a particular place, appear to depend in part upon which of these urban details we notice, or build-up in our mind's eye, and how we interpret them emotionally.


We have noticed that each urban context we find ourseleves in projects its own alphabet of details to us - its Urban Lexicon, which we remember and these help us decide what we think about it and whether that part of the city/ town says 'yes' or 'no' to us, as Landry would say.
This selection of images show a sample 'lexicon' of details in Barcelona that might provoke in us a 'yes' or a 'no'. Note that its not just the elements we plan- or design-in to our cities that impact how we feel about them, but the informal or unanticipated appropriations, too.

For more discussion on issues related to these, see our article, The Difference is in the Detail (downloadable from the Documents section), originally published in the Journal of Place Branding.



“‘Social Norms: public spaces are regulated through unwritten social codes where subtle rules, signs and symbols convey whom a particular space is for and what behaviour is permissible.” DEMOS/ Jospeh Rowntree Foundation, 2005.

"We never look at cities [in terms of] emotion and lived experience, and that’s important. When you go into the city is it saying yes or is it saying no? Ashphalt for example says no….’’My first impression of Perth is of the city saying ‘no’ - there are red lights everywhere” Charles Landry, 2007

So what are the details that stimulate those ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses that we instinctively make?