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Experiential mappings: approaching the landscape through atmosphere

Ioanna Spanou


This paper argues that the opening up of landscape analysis to variables that exceed the ¨tangible¨ or traditionally ¨parameterized¨ values provides alternative access to the specificities of the landscape. In particular, the concept of ¨atmosphere¨ as a particular dimension of the embodied experience, is proposed as an operative vehicle for the enrichment of the cartographic interpretation of the landscape. By placing the emphasis on atmosphere in terms of its causes, rather than its effects on our emotional sensibility, cartography enhances the identification of the particular by interpreting the specific manner that the properties of the landscape configure the experience. The paper is structured in two parts. The first part is a theoretical inquiry of the inter-subjective patterns of perception that define ¨atmosphere¨, with the objective to bring the concept of atmosphere into the professional practice and discourse of landscape architecture through the agency of mapping. In the second part, the proposed approach to atmosphere is tested through a series of mappings of an agrarian, ordinary landscape, situated in Catalonia, Spain. The cartographic exercises point towards the identification of spatial patterns that potentially function as activators of atmospheres, as indicators for the presence of particular modes of landscape experience.


landscape analysis, atmosphere, embodied experience, mappings

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