The Role of Place Identity in the Perception, Understanding, and Design of Built Environments

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In an era of globalization, where the progressive deterioration of local values is a dominating characteristic, identity is seen as a fundamental need that encompasses all aspects of human life. One ...
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Multilayered Identity of Places: Linkage Between Physical Form, Behaviour Patterns and Public Perception

Pp. 120-132 (13)

Barbara Goličnik Marušić and Matej Nikšič


The importance of simultaneous treating of the constituent elements of space on a detailed level of urban design is debated in this chapter. Three aspects are given particular attention when defining these elements: the physical form, the patterns of use of place, and the perceptual dimensions of space. These are based on physical and functional definition of space, as well as its symbolic dimension. The study is illustrated by two squares in Ljubljana, Slovenia - Prešernov trg and Kongresni trg. Both places are characterized by short and long stay active and passive activities. The research showed that the physical articulation and detailed physical characteristics of space makes it recognisable at first hand by their users. In addition, it was found that the presence of users resulted as an important aspect giving character to each place. Although, both case studies bear rich historical footprints and symbolic meanings, only the latter was present in the mental images of space constructed by the users. These empirical findings contribute to the debate on the development of place identity of these historic urban areas, strongly present in contemporary life. Results reflected the importance of a multi-layered approach to place identity.


Public space, behaviour mapping, cognitive mapping, identity, design.


Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, Trnovski pristan 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia