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close this bookInitial Environmental Assessment: Urban Development - Series no 12 (NORAD, 1996)
close this folderPart I: Urban development. The urban environment, projects and environmental impacts.
close this folder2 More on selected project categories, strategies and analysis methods
View the document2.1 Building/construction projects
View the document2.2 Transport and infrastructure
View the document2.3 Management, planning and participation
View the document2.4 Urban ecological strategies
View the document2.5 Place analysis

2.5 Place analysis

Place analysis is a method or tool which can assist to a better foundation for planning, handling of construction projects and environmental impact assessment. Place analysis may be defined as a systematization of knowledge to understand the history, situation and future possibilities of an urban area. Through analysis of the physical environment, both the visually apparent and the underlying processes, one may reveal important basic information relating to localisation and design of new settlements and conservation of landscape and architecture. The following issues are relevant when the surroundings are analysed as physical design: a) historic development, b) nature and landscape, c) the organisation of the built-up area, and d) buildings and other individual elements. (Also see 1.3.4.)

Assessment of aesthetic qualities of the environment through the assistance of visual analysis is important. The same holds for landscape analysis where the intention is to unite design, culture and nature. An assessment of both the visual, functional, ecological, and any important landscape aspects may be relevant in order to document and convey the character of the landscape. The analysis may also include the cultural heritage when the intention is to assess the conservation value of certain objects or larger continuous areas. A comprehensive analysis with the intention of interpreting the identity or image of a site may be central to the analysis. The need for such analysis may be defended on the fact that older man-made physical environments are destroyed many places, and that new construction seldom manages to retain the local identity. The result may be a loss of place. People are emotionally attached to a place through identification, orientation and memory. This may be expressed in various ways by various cultures. Large physical changes or loss of place can in various ways impact the quality of life for a population.

In a place analysis many aspects of an urban area may have to be viewed in a regional context in order to be understood. The delimitation of a place may be based on its function both internally, in relation to the surrounding areas, and in relation to other places. The main -functions of a place may in some cases be more important to indicate than the physical delimitation.