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Nov 5, 2023 · 5 min read

Love as a design principle. Why do we love some cities? Love maps and mental mapping. Mental mapping of all places we have been to and wanted to forget as well as the creation of love maps for those we hold close to our hearts.

No, this is not going to be a debate on love as a subject and core of our existence but we may touch on that in some later posts, for now, I would like to describe why we carve the memory of special places only if something close to our subconscious mind has entered our universe. Love maps are usually created in a few circumstances. One of them is when you are a teenager and have limited movement so you can only experience your immediate surroundings.

Better still is the one you carve during the falling in love stage in the town where you live and or on your holidays with that special one. We choose beautiful and relaxing places to go on our holidays or first dates, preferably places with history or places rich in environmental and spatial characteristics. No one told me they had a great holiday with the family amongst busy suburban dwellings with no amenities.

When that high level of Oxytocin and Dopamine hits our brain and nostrils, we start to record the path, colours, shapes, rain, or sunshine subconsciously in a very special way. Presumably, all goes to plan, and those memories will carve deep into our minds to feed us and supply good vibes for the rest of our lives. We can share them or hide them, but they are ours to keep.

Role of Urban Design

Believe it or not, Urban Design plays a great role in facilitating those events. You will ask HOW?  Well, we shall refer back to the blog on “becoming an Urban Designer” and understanding places, giving the best possible, meaningful, usable, pleasant appearance that will attract and indulge its users to love it and or repeatedly visit it with gusto.

A good Urban Designer is to sensor the best characteristics of the place, to fulfil the needs of its users, makes or find amazing triggers of uniqueness to each place and serve it to others to admire. There are many hidden secrets in the Designer’s toolbox some of them are to recognize excellence.

Attached Love maps are created by Jessica Nichol. She is an upcoming design guru on understanding urban places within its core and collaborating on Urban Design projects to deliver and amaze.

And now the word from the map creator:

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms”.

Muriel Rukeyser, poet

My work explores the idea of personal cities; the way the same physical space holds layers of different meanings and emotional connections for every individual.

Even the most seemingly mundane stretch of pavement or park bench holds specific connotations in someone’s personal story. We are surrounded by such emotional signposts every day and this creates a complex and emotionally charged dimension beyond static architecture.

Four participants ventured out to rediscover their own ‘mental maps’ of Fitzroy, Collingwood, and Carlton. They plotted their discoveries which I have translated into a graphic language floating above the grid. Here are the results. “

Going forward follow our journey in discovering those places that matter. Grand designs happen through the collaboration of many professions.


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