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Sensory Navigation: Reading the Sensescape of a City


School of the Built Environment

About the Project

Sensory navigation proposes to introduce a novel way of experiencing the city centre of Reading, through the senses, including the visual, thermal, acoustic, visual and olfactory environment. While walking in the city, the senses play an essential role in human behaviour, providing rational grounds for knowledge and action. Traditionally, different scientific disciplines (such as, architecture, sociology, experimental psychology, urban studies, psychogeography) have understood the senses as separate channels for collection of information from the environment. Recently, it has become clear that the senses together form an integrated knowledge-gathering system.

The research objective of this project is to determine the nature of this integration during the spatial experience of wayfinding and navigation in the city. This PhD is open to those who are keen to develop an interdisciplinary approach to architecture and community participation and be part of a dynamic research environment. It will be crucial in order to establish a framework for understanding how the bodily experience can process and integrate information from the different senses, and how this results in a spatially rich experience and perception-driven activities. The PhD would also offer the opportunity to engage with diverse local communities in Reading to bring them together in an effort to map the sensory qualities and experiences of everyday life in the city centre. At the same time it will provide opportunities to work alongside staff and students in the School of Architecture and be part of the research community of the Urban Living Research Group at the School of Built Environment and Real Estate and Planning.

The project re-invents our experience of walking, wayfinding, discovery of the historical, cultural and natural evolution of walking paths that link the landmarks of Reading with the city and its citizens. Main objectives include the creation of a Reading sensory map that will re-define the quality and comfort conditions of the pedestrian environment, in order to increase awareness as well as promote civic engagement with the cultural identity of the place and social interaction.

Funding Notes

Candidates require a first class or 2.1 degree and/or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject

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