Fore and against: science, aesthetics and the visual complexities of figure-ground in urban analysis

  • YEAR
    Chapman, Michael
    Ostwald, Michael J.
    2007 Conference Papers
    Effective environments: thermal, luminous, sonic, haptic, hygienic


Abstract: As the pre-eminent diagram for the visual analysis and design of urban environments since the
Renaissance, the figure-ground plan is an important graphic device, not only representing
diagrammatically the relationship between buildings and their surroundings but, at the psychological level,
the perceptual distinction between solid and void. This paper will look at the scientific categorisations
implied in the figure-ground and its relationship to broader arguments in psychology and aesthetics. By
looking at the models of urban analysis developed by Mario Gandelsonas in his work X-Urbanism (1999)
the paper will demonstrate the confluence of aesthetic and psychological models of organisation and the
affiliations established between scientific systems of categorisation and the analysis of urban form.


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