The City Image and Its Elements – Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch was an American urban planner and author. His ideas about city and its perception can be seen in his work ‘The Image of the City.’ Which I will try to summarize in this post.

According to Lynch, the city is about the way the people perceive it. He called it as imageability. Some elements in the city gives people more than only information. In the book those elements called as paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmark.

First element that is mentioned is paths. Paths are the channels that helps observer to move along to city. They can be streets, canals, railroads or so on. Paths are linear and continuous channels. They are important since the way we observe city depends on the ways we walk.

Second element is edges. He basically defined edges as a boundary of two phases. They are linear elements that in between city and sea for example. Opposite from the paths, the edges broke the continuity of a phases and from the edges there is another phase that began.

Third one is districts. It is like the sections of the city. The observer can go inside of the districts. Districts can be defined with different physical characteristics such as texture, space, form, detail, symbol, building type, use, activity, inhabitants, degree of maintenance, topography. Also, we can say some cultural activities can define a district, too. They can be in a relation with each other or they can be in their zone and stand single.

Another element is nodes. Nodes are the strategic foci into which the observer can enter either junctions of paths or concentrations of some characteristic. We can say the break points of streets can be nodes. They are somehow reference points for observers of the city.

Last element is landmark. I think landmark is also references of the city. Different from nodes, observers can not enter the landmark. They are generally simple defined objects in the city. It can be buildings, signs, store or a mountain.


Those elements of the city are not isolated from one another. We can’t say the paths are only the roads and the nodes are the points or so on. All elements are helping each other to define themselves in the city.  Observers of the city can experience the city image with those elements.

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