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An analysis of the changing character of an urban street: a case study of the Galle road, Colombo

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Nisha Fernando

LK
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Abstract

Analyses of the perceptible character of an environment are often vague and implicit. In urban contexts, visual elements are recognized as key attributes of the environmental character. This paper is based on a research study that investigated the environmental character within an explicit conceptual framework, which included several visual as well as nonvisual attributes. People's interactions with the environment, by means of various activities and settings, contribute significantly to the character of an urban space. Non-visual sensory elements, such as smell or sound, also contribute largely to the perception and evaluation of the ambience of an urban environment. Culture is the overarching concept and it plays an important role in the type of activity, the choice of settings, and the presence/absence of multi-sensory elements. Taking Galle Road, Colombo, a key urban street in Colombo and an example of the Sri Lankan urban cultural landscape, the present study considered activity systems, systems of settings, and multi-sensory elements as key attributes of the perceptible character. It focused specifically on a comparison of how the character changes al different points along the street, from the Lotus Road intersection at Galle Face to the Dehiwela Bridge. The methodology involved unobtrusive participant observations, place-centered behavioral mapping, systematic field notes, and photographic documentation. The findings showed that there are seven distinct sections of Galle Road that display different characters. Furthermore, these different sections, distinguished on" the basis of how people use the street and the resultant multi-sensory qualities, do not coincide with various zones and divisions as outlined by a recent development proposal for the Galle Road.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/besl.v1i2.7624
How to Cite: Fernando, N., (2016). An analysis of the changing character of an urban street: a case study of the Galle road, Colombo. Built-Environment Sri Lanka. 1(2), pp.25–37. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/besl.v1i2.7624
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Published on 29 Jul 2016.
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