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Landscape preference is also an important factor in determining a person’s enjoyment of a space. Even though personal preference may differ from person to person, there are some general design and management factors that can influence the overall preference of a space. Unchanging landscapes, large areas of indistinguishable landcovers, dense vegetation and obstructed views all result in less desirable spaces. By contrast, unobstructed views and highly visible views, well-maintained landscape, smooth ground, as well as evenly spaced trees resulting in a more desirable landscape. Landscapes of a greater preference can be broken down into four different factors; coherence, complexity, legibility, and mystery.
In order for a landscape to have coherence, it must be organized. Organizing a space can be by creating orderly areas or different regions. A region can be formed by designating different land uses in the space. Regions also can be composed of varying ecosystems or by separating different types of vegetation. Using repeating themes helps the viewer distinguish different relationships and uses in the landscape. The use of unifying textures, while limiting contrasting texture also creates coherence in a landscape. Lastly, using repeating themes in a landscape improves the coherence of a space.
Landscapes with greater complexity offer more exploration and therefore, as discussed, can increase the restorative qualities. While having a lack of complexity can be dull or boring, too much variety can create confusion.
Mystery in a landscape comes from the desire for one to keep exploring. Hints of what’s to come, such as a curved path or a partially obstructed view, is alluring. In contrast, a view or path that is completely blocked or obstructed with dense vegetation feels less safe and decreases a person’s curiosity.
Wayfinding is a critical element in urban design for coherence and exploration of a space. While some people enjoy the mystery and spontaneity of finding ‘hidden treasures’ that comes through wandering, having well-developed signage, maps, etc. is appreciated, and necessary for many. Thoughtful design and execution of wayfinding are as important as having it. Lack of thought or poorly designed wayfinding can contribute to greater confusion and can create more problems than it will solve. Dividing larger spaces into smaller, more distinct regions not only contributes to a better perception of the space, it also helps one with wayfinding. Maps should be designed to include these regions as well as landmarks accompanied by paths, main attractions, and other notable signage. The map design, as well as signage, should lack complexity, ‘less is more’ and be easily understood by a variety of ages and users. Use of clear and identifiable symbols is encouraged due to the simplicity and lack of language barriers.
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