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Regular Edible Geography readers will know that smellscapes are a recurring subplot of this blog — a diversion that I justify on the basis that roughly ninety percent of what we perceive as taste is actually smell.
For the most part, the built environment consists of accidental and overlooked odours — an unintentional backdrop of neighbourhood zoning laws, off-gassing cabinetry, scented cleaning products, and HVAC.
Architecture, urban planning, and interior design operate primarily as visual practices, with little thought given to the auditory qualities of a space, and even less to olfactory experience.
Nonetheless, smell can shape spatial perception at least as powerfully as light or sound, producing atmosphere, narrative, and even form. In addition to describing her smellwalking methodology, Victoria discusses the olfactory impact of gentrification, the search for the stinkiest urine in England, and the importance of smellmarks in urban placemaking, as well as her new work on the sensory qualities of thermal experience and Does geography control your destiny intriguingly named National Vibration Project, and much more.
Designing at the sensory level means designing space, rather than just its enclosures — it involves the conscious consideration of invisible, relational, and dynamic information to augment or reshape the urban experience.
An edited transcript of our conversation appears below. What goes into planning the route for a smell walk? Do you scout it out first, or do you just set off and smell whatever you come across?
My preference is to visit the site beforehand, just so I can point people in the direction of interesting things and be a better guide.
It was actually very clean, apart from the fact that there were loads of cigarette ends. The space under the stairs, Sheffield photo by Victoria Henshaw. Barry Truax has talked about this from the point of view of acoustic ecology: The smell-walkers in action, photo by Victoria Henshaw.
Who comes on your smell walks? The event in Sheffield was originally targeted at the Yorkshire Urban Design Groupso it was largely design professionals — urban designers, architects, town planners, and students in those fields.
I organized the Seattle walk as part of the American Association of Geographers annual conferenceand so, by its very nature, it was mostly geographers. But within my PhD research, I also did smell walks with local business people, residents, and people who worked in Doncaster town centre.
I also had access to a lot of data from sensory walks that had been carried out with residents of different cities across England, as part of a project called VivaCity They asked people to take photographs of their local area and then take the researcher on a ten-minute walk anywhere near where they lived.
How does your area taste? How does it sound? Doncaster smellmarks, photo by Victoria Henshaw. Have you found a difference in the kinds of things that the professional designers perceive on a smell walk, versus the residents? Design professionals were thinking about smell in terms of managing the city.
Those with responsibility for managing the town centre thought it was a disgusting smell, that it really lowered the tone of the area, and that it should be banished. Burger van, by Flickr user Evissa. Now, something surprising that came out of my research is that when I asked people to rate their own sense of smell before the walk, the female participants rated their sense of smell much higher than the male participants did.
But actually, when we went out there, men and women were detecting exactly the same thing. However, I found that there was really no difference in gender performance when it came to detecting smells, but that the women showed a lot more disgust toward smells.
Is it possible that the women rated their sense of smell as better simply because their perceptual experience is stronger? Before each walk, I asked everybody to explain their own rating of their sense of smell. It seems to be a socialisation of smell response that happens as people get older.
Sheffield panorama, photo by Flickr user meltonhill. In other words, not being able to stand the smell of urine or vomit might be less about the quality of the odour and more about a sense of danger associated with alleys and the backs of buildings and so on.
Doncaster fish market, via Flickr user William Thomas. What happens when a new smell is introduced into a city? One good example of that comes from the Copley Road district, in Doncaster. Doncaster is traditionally a very working class town with very little racial mix.
In the past five years, the Copley Road area specifically has seen a large influx of different ethnic minorities.In other words, do you control your life or does something else (like a god, luck or destiny) control it?
Your answer depends on your “Locus of Control”. What Does “Locus of Control” Mean?
Borders and boundaries, commonly defined as the lines dividing distinct political, social, or legal territories, are arguably the most ubiquitous features within the field of political geography. Indeed, borders have become prominent topics of research for a range of scholars from across the social.
"Is Geography Destiny?" challenges that premise and joins a growing body of literature studying the links between geography and development. Focusing on Latin America, the book argues that, with a better understanding of geography, public policy can help control or channel its influence toward the goals of economic and social development.
Enter your email address to subscribe to Insights IAS and receive notifications of new posts by email. This is the foliage of destiny. Welcome back to our series, What does it really take to get into the Ivy League?While tests and grades are the most important part of your application, they alone are not enough to distinguish you from all the other kids who are applying.
Definition. In Islam, "predestination" is the usual English language rendering of a belief that Muslims call al-qaḍāʾ wa l-qadar ([ælqɑˈdˤɑːʔ wælˈqɑdɑr] القضاء والقدر).The phrase means "the divine decree and the predestination"; al-qadr derives from a root that means to measure out.
Concept. Qadar is one of the aspects of aqidah.