The Cartographic Journal

Vol. 42 No. 1
The British Cartographic Society 2005

pp. 1–12

June 2005

#

REFEREED PAPER

Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory
Itzhak Omer, Ran Goldblatt and Udi Or
Department of Geography and The Human Environment, The Environmental Simulation Laboratory, Tel-Aviv
University, Ramat-Aviv, Tel-Aviv, 69978, Israel
Email: omery@post.tau.ac.il; ran@eslab.tau.ac.il; udi@eslab.tau.ac.il

This paper aims to evaluate what effect applying residents’ urban image to virtual city design (a real time virtual model of
an actual city) has on wayfinding performance during ‘flying-based’ navigation mode. Two experiments were conducted to
compare two virtual city designs using the virtual model of Tel Aviv city. One design included highlighted urban elements
from the residents’ urban image, while in the second design no highlighted elements were included.
The experiments proved that using the elements of the residents’ urban image in a virtual city design enhances the
performance of all participants in the wayfinding tasks, and especially those with a low level of spatial knowledge.
Analysis of the trajectory patterns and the verbal reports of the participants during navigation showed that the urban
image design facilitates a more intensive use of a position-based strategy, in addition to the path-integration wayfinding
strategy, which was found to be dominant in the virtual model without the highlighted urban image elements. On the basis
of these findings we propose principles for designing virtual cities from a perspective of wayfinding.
Keywords: geovisualization, virtual cities, urban image theory, wayfinding strategies, Virtual Environment design

1. INTRODUCTION

A virtual city is a real-time model of an actual city that enables
the user to walk through or fly over a certain area. Such
models have been constructed recently for many cities, e.g.
Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, Barcelona, Glasgow,
Tokyo and Tel Aviv, thanks to improvements in geovisualization tools (computer graphics, GIS etc). Currently, the
research in this field tends to concentrate on the models’
technological dimensions and their implementations for
supporting urban planning and various decision-making
processes (Fisher and Unwin, 2001; Laurini, 2001; Jiang
et al., 2003). However, with a few exceptions, which include
a conceptual discussion on cognitive issues for virtual
environment design (Slocum et al., 2001) and a consideration of wayfinding aspects in a virtual cities design
(Bourdakis, 1998; Omer et al., forthcoming), little attention
has been paid to the wayfinding difficulties that characterize
these models and their design implications.
Virtual cities are unique when compared to other
geographical representations of the city, such as maps, aerial
photographs or static 3D models, due to the real-time
movement within them, which is characterized by high speed
of locomotion, different 3D viewing perspectives and varying geographical scales. These characteristics of virtual cities
could entail non-intuitive and unfamiliar user behavior,
resulting in wayfinding difficulties for the users i.e. difficulties
in locating their current position and finding their way to a
desired location. In addition, users may experience difficulties
DOI:

of orientation just as users of any desktop virtual environment
(VE). These difficulties are related to the lack of ‘presence’,
i.e. ‘the participant’s sense of ‘being there’ in the virtual
environment’ (Slater et al., 1994), perspective distortions
and the use of standard input devices that might affect
performance during navigation (Darken and Sibert, 1996;
Ruddle et al., 1997; Harris and Jenkin et al., 2000; Whitelock
et al., 2000; Jansen et al., 2001).
Enhancing wayfinding performance in a virtual city
design aims to help city residents transfer their image and
spatial knowledge from the real city to its virtual model.
Lynch’s urban image theory (Lynch, 1960) could be an
appropriate tool to attain this goal since it enables us to see
how city residents perceive their city. The urban image, or
city image, is actually the overlap of many individual
images, Lynch claims ‘which are the result of a two-way
process between the observer and his environment. The
environment suggests distinctions and relations, and the
observer […] selects, organizes and endows with meaning
what he sees’ (Lynch, 1960, p. 6). The underlying
assumption is that the city image, which is obtained from
sketch maps or interviews, provides information on the
imageability of the city elements. Lynch defined imageability as a ‘quality in a physical object which gives it a high
probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer’
(Lynch, 1960, p. 9). In discussing real city design by these
elements, Lynch suggests they can be classified conveniently
into five types of elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes and

mostly with the photos of the facade textures. The model was built in the Environmental Simulation Laboratory at Tel Aviv University with SkylineH 4. One of the important decisions in this process is the selection of the urban objects to be presented by 3D models within the virtual environment. the current virtual Tel Aviv model does not yet include 3D models of buildings. In order to create a representative urban image. therefore. In the last section. The locations of the nine elements for each map given by the participants were compared to their real locations — providing a mean distance error value for each participant. In order to construct the urban image of Tel Aviv. only those elements that appeared in more than two sketch maps were included in this aggregate map.) The first design did not include highlighted urban elements selected from the residents’ urban image. Habimah National Theater. this study can clarify whether these buildings could be selected based on the urban image elements. a list of nine well-known locations in Tel Aviv was read to them. While these studies do not involve real large-scale VE. involves vast amounts of money and time. took part in the experiments.1 Virtual Tel Aviv Virtual Tel Aviv offers the user a real-time flying-based navigation mode over Tel Aviv city. we established a 3D visualization of the city terrain. (In this experiment we added the residents` urban image as a GIS layer. None of these participants had taken part in drawing the sketch maps from which we evaluated the urban image for use in the experiments. C32 residents of the city were asked ‘to draw a map of Tel Aviv and to draw the dominant elements in it (no more than C15 elements)’. two virtual city designs of Tel Aviv city were compared. In addition. 1999. the Azrieli mall and the railway station). Afterwards (in experiment 2) we added GIS layers of the Tel Aviv ‘urban image’ objects (paths. (The virtual model of Tel Aviv city will be referred to in this paper as ‘virtual Tel Aviv’. Though Lynch’s urban image theory has not been applied to the design of a virtual city. the urban image framework can serve as an appropriate tool for this selection.2 landmarks. its efficiency for enhancing wayfinding has been proved in many other VE studies. a factor that might influence their behavior. p. The conclusions of this study also have operative implications on the construction of virtual cities. METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK 2. we describe virtual Tel Aviv and the experiments and the methods used for their documentation and analysis.) The participants of both experiments had to complete the following steps: Phase 1: Each subject was provided with an A4 sheet of paper. City Hall. In order to give the respondents reference points. Then we added an orthophoto of Tel Aviv (in a resolution of 25 cm). the design of the virtual model did not include any highlighted landmarks. while in the second design highlighted elements were incorporated. we interpolated a CDTM point layer (in a resolution of 50 m) Cof Tel Aviv into a The Cartographic Journal raster layer of the city’s altitudes.5 software. 2. as well as to create a common understanding of the assignment for all participants. we also marked two very familiar landmarks along the coastline of Tel Aviv — the new Tel Aviv port and the old Jaffa port. To make sure they were familiar with the city. In the next section. 26 to 58 years of age. 2001. an area of about 50 square km. Yehuda-Maccabi Street and the central bus station) and three other central locations (the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. In cases where the urban image design is found to enhance wayfinding performance. landmarks. Such information allows us to define the spatial knowledge quality of the participants. These relations have been found to help users structure their spatial representation in differing scales (Vinson. For example. We go on to report the findings of these experiments. Darken and Sibert. To that end. 1996). We decided to limit the number of the elements to 15 so that only the most imageable elements would emerge. 811). as accurately as you can’. and. Using this software.. while in experiment 2 the design of the virtual model included highlighted urban elements from the residents’ urban image. All participants were given the same instruction: ‘Please mark each of the above sites Con the map. we summarize the results of the study and note some further work. All participants declared they knew the city of Tel Aviv ‘well’.2 The experiments Twenty-four participants (15 male and 9 female). On the basis of these findings. We then gathered the data from the individual sketch maps into one aggregate map representing the residents’ urban image of Tel Aviv. The aim of this paper is to study the effect that a virtual city design based on residents’ urban image has on wayfinding performance. and using these altitudes. The main national highway (Ayalon Highway) was also marked (Figure 2). 2. the importance of the relations between Lynch’s element types for navigation enhancement is emphasized in VE studies. and they include six locations in the wayfinding tasks (the clock tower in Jaffa. edges and districts) as shown in Figure 1. which should be patterned together to provide an imageable environment. This decision also has an economic aspect since constructing 3D models. These objects were highlighted by colour C(different colours for linear and non-linear objects) and labels (as text next to the object). in the fourth section we suggest principles of using residents’ urban image in the design of virtual cities. . on which the municipal borders of Tel Aviv were marked. 1997). In experiment 1. The nine sites were those which were read to them at the beginning of the experiment. It was found that route-finding performance of the VE userimproved improved when familiar objects were placed within the VE than when no landmarks were used (Ruddle et al. and they were asked whether they knew their exact locations. Al-Kodmany (2001) used Lynch’s theory as a framework when combining Web-based multimedia technology to assist residents and planners in visualizing a community in Chicago by ‘visualizing selected areas that were selected as most imageable by the residents themselves’ (Al-Kodmany. the Israel Museum. Two experiments were conducted by dividing the participants into two groups of 12. nodes.

Phase 3: This phase comprised two wayfinding tasks. The municipal borders of Tel Aviv and the reference points which were marked scale and Cmanipulating the viewed screen. In the second task. In each assignment. the areas covered by the tasks were urban areas of varying density and complexity. . This setting allowed the user to clearly identify the object and its immediate surroundings.3 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory COLOUR FIGURE Figure 1. backwards. In the second task no reference object was visible in the immediate environment of the starting point (Figure 4). In both experiments. from the theater to Yehuda-Maccabi Street. participants were asked to ‘fly’ to three different locations in Tel Aviv: from the clock tower in Jaffa to Habimah Theater. To prevent the participants from seeing the orthophoto of the examined area (Tel Aviv). the initial viewing angle was 90u and the viewing height was 315 meters above sea level. or longer if they felt (or we felt) they needed extra practice. We explained to them that they could fly at any speed and at any height they wanted. In addition. they practiced using the simulator on another area of Tel Aviv for C5 minutes. It should be noted that the two tasks differed in area covered and in initial viewing conditions: The first task included the coastline as a dominant reference object in the area where the participants began the wayfinding task. moving up scale and down COLOUR FIGURE Figure 2. stopping. the participants were asked to tell us once they had identified the target location and to receive confirmation that it was indeed the one requested. In the first task. We explained to them how to use the flight simulator (using the keyboard as an interaction device): moving forwards. (a) The components and (b) the interface of virtual Tel Aviv Phase 2: Participants were introduced to the virtual model of Tel Aviv on a 19" desktop monitor at the Environmental Simulation Laboratory. participants were asked to fly from the new central bus station to the city hall building (see Figure 3). controlling the speed. and from there to the Israel Museum.

The coastline was found to be a dominant reference line in the first task. which tended to run close and parallel to these reference lines (Figure 5). The two tasks given to the participants and the task locations. means continued integration of largescale and angular components. west . internal conflict. In experiment 1. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 11.) and as transitional cues that provide a basis for interpreting mobility and relative scale during navigation.. 2000). Such tracking enabled us to perform quantitative analysis of the trajectory patterns of participants during navigation. Navigation by position-based. in experiment 2. The dominance of the path-integration strategy in experiment 1 is illustrated by the fact that many participants relied on global reference elements of the city.2 environment. allowing estimation of direction and distance. Arrows represent the shortest flying path from each location to the next 2. participants seemed to rely mainly on the path-integration strategy. 2000) was implemented to reveal and understand the strategies and thoughts of the participants during the assignments. . Path-integration. we can classify these techniques into two basic wayfinding strategies. using the urban image design model that provided a network of locations in the observed simulated environment. common in human navigation in real environments: path-integration and position-based strategies (Loomis et al. however. Tracking movement: In order to investigate individual wayfinding performance. Murray et al. we recorded all the participants’ real-time-log data of movement (coordinates. When we felt they were not descriptive enough we encouraged them to elaborate and asked them what they were thinking about. decisions etc. RESULTS: HOW DOES THE URBAN IMAGE DESIGN INFLUENCE WAYFINDING IN A VIRTUAL CITY? COLOUR FIGURE Figure 3. until another ‘strong’ element is found. However. during ‘flying– based’ navigation mode to locations that are beyond the visual field. 1992.). Each participant’s documentation was examined according to three categories: the Using the data analysis of the documentation in experiment 1 (navigation in the virtual model without the highlighted elements) and in experiment 2 (navigation in the virtual model with the highlighted urban image elements)... 1999. as cues for relating their position within the frame of reference (north. where the model did not include the urban image elements.e. Although each participant used different methods for arriving at the destination objects.. participants tended to use the position-based strategy. In general terms.4 The Cartographic Journal geographical elements mentioned. or piloting strategy relies on recognizable landscape elements. Navigators use landmarks as cues for information on their position and how to arrive at a desired location during flying-based navigation mode.0 software. In order to obtain these trajectory patterns. 3. height etc. the Ayalon Highway (to the east) and the Hayarkon River (to the north). wayfinding strategies and difficulties during wayfinding tasks. Everything they said was recorded and later analysed.3 Methods of documentation and analysis a. Three main linear elements were found to be helpful while navigating: the coastline (to the west). while the Ayalon Highway dominated in the second task. 1976. or dead reckoning strategy. these elements fill three main functions in the path-integration strategy: as anchors for indicating the general direction towards the desired location. we are able draw conclusion regarding the influence of highlighted elements on the participants’ performance during wayfinding tasks with respect to strategies and difficulties. a level of spatial knowledge that incorporates information concerning directions and the relative positions of places (Golledge. Peruch et al. the recorded real-time-log data was converted to GIS layers and then visualized as polylines in GIS layers in ArcGIS 8. since adopting such a strategy requires a high level of configurational knowledge i. ‘Think-aloud’ method: A ‘think-aloud’ or ‘self-report’ method (Golledge. This can be verified both by the verbal report (Table 1) and the trajectory patterns of the participants.. navigators will coincidently see single reference objects and from that object calculate the position of the target location. As can be learned from the verbal reports.) while using the model (including the area on the interface as it was seen by the user). questions. 1996. The participants were asked to verbally explain to us everything that came into their minds during navigation (strategies. speed. In other words. thoughts. b. Darken and Sibert.

So it should be much more to the east. we assume that the Table 1.’ .’ — ‘I’m trying to find some landmark that I know for sure … like a street — that will get me fully oriented … .’ Transitional — ‘I can identify the Ayalon Highway and I’m going parallel to it rather than over it … . (a) The initial viewing point of a. this must be Pinkas Street.’ — ‘If this is Weizman St. As a result..’ — ‘Here is the label of Ayalon Highway. Verbal documentation of the function of the geographical objects during wayfinding tasks Function of objects Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Positional location — ‘I know the general direction from Milano Square to the Israel Museum … I am not following any specific streets. it seems that the participants need recognizable elements to find their way by using the position-based strategy. experience problems that result in poor Cwayfinding performance. pp.’ — ‘I’m flying in a general direction following main streets that I don’t really recognize . I’ll know which way is north.’ — ‘I want to drive north to the Opera Building and then veer to the east … this is what I do when I drive there. and this is Dizingoff St. mainly in the later stages of the tasks when they need to ‘leave’ these anchors. (b) the central bus station Kitchin and Blades.K! Here is the label ’Azrieli‘ — so I’ll turn on Kaplan St and continue straight till I reach Ibn Gvirol St. 58–67). 2002. . To reach this conclusion. Analysis of the relation between the level of spatial knowledge and the wayfinding performance in the model without the urban image elements proves this. in cases where the recognizable elements are not available. the clock tower in Jaffa..’ Frame of reference — ‘I don’t want to get too far away from the beach. particularly those with a low level of configurational knowledge and who use mainly a procedural knowledge. it is often not sufficient for all the participants to fulfill the wayfinding tasks. so this is north. I’ll just follow this road. I’ll take a left turn here and this will take me to the area I want .’ — ‘Here is Rotschild Blvd … so it should be somewhere in this area.’ — ‘Once I know where Ayalon Highway is. Therefore.’ — ‘Judging by these towers. because otherwise I wouldn’t know where west is!’ — ‘If that’s the beach. lets leave the coastline and head east. just flying in a certain general direction.’ — ‘O.5 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory COLOUR FIGURE Figure 4. I’ll turn left so I’ll be heading north..’ — ‘I feel like I’m driving a car .’ — ‘I recognize Rabin Square and the city hall.’ — ‘I can see the label of the Shalom building.’ — ‘I want to fly over Ayalon Highway till I’ll identify Azrieli mall.’ — ‘O.. .. then that’s west and this is north. the participants.K..’ — ‘I can see the label of Alenbi st … you know what? I will follow this street.’ — ‘Here’s the David Intercontinental Hotel — I’ll take a right there.

6 The Cartographic Journal Figure 5. which caused them to . many participants experienced problems distinguishing between CHamedina Square and Dizingoff Square (well-known squares in Tel Aviv) despite the fact that the ratio between these two areas is about 2 : 1 (approximately 850 sqm and 450 sqm. Participants also experienced problems estimating speed of movement. The influence of urban image design on track patterns of the participants: (a) without design.033). (II) Ayalon Highway as reference line accuracy of the sketch maps (measured according to the distances between the locations drawn on the sketch maps and their real locations) serves as an indicator for estimating the quality of knowledge. when an object or an area has a familiar shape. In addition. but they also have difficulty getting used to their proportions (Table 2). For example. while the length of the flying path serves as an indictor for wayfinding performance. making it hard for them to evaluate spatial relations needed for orientation. (I) the coastline as reference line. it is extremely difficult for the user to identify it without seeing its surroundings (or a label with its name). as a longer path may indicate that the participant didn’t know the target’s exact location. it is clear from the experiment that the users not only are unaccustomed to seeing the shape of city objects from above (without its 3D familiar shape). respectively). a city square for example. This fact can be related to the difficulty participants had in recognizing familiar objects from a bird’s-eye view. This correlation shows that participants who had a more accurate representation of the city were able to navigate more efficiently in the virtual model. (b) with design. p50. a view that characterizes a flying-based navigation mode.615. Because of this. A significant positive correlation was found between the distortions in the sketch maps and the length of the flying path (a Pearson correlation of 0.

. the participants in experiment 2 continuously updated their position using the highlighted elements. the labeled objects served as positional information for a location. This environment provided the conditions for adopting a position-based strategy. When comparing the two experiments. I can go on from here towards the target location’). In suggesting principles for such design. the objects that Table 2.774 m) while in experiment 2 it was 15. While in the first experiment (without the urban image design). df5(22). the availability of recognizable urban features enables a continuous update of the current position during navigation.467 m). the path-integration wayfinding strategy.. 9. The verbal terminology used in each strategy is also different.e. No.’ Lack of orientation — ‘I couldn’t identify Dizingoff square without the label!’ — ‘I know the cinema should be here. 4..043 mC (std. in addition to.photography.895). where no highlighted elements were available (see Figure 5). — ‘But wait a minute! Which square is this??’ — ‘It takes me time get used to the proportions . and in several cases even instead of. which was found to be a dominant strategy when the model design did not include the highlighted elements. ‘This element should be ‘X’ […] yes. when the identified locations function as a network of locations or as positional information for confirming location. The trajectory patterns also illustrate this transformation: When the urban image labels were available for the users. Wayfinding strategies changed significantly in experiment 2. The total length of the flying paths in experiment 1 was 52. Notice that this relation was significantly correlated in experiment 1. but I can’t identify it!’ — ‘It’s difficult when it’s not three. this is why I’m looking for the labels.7 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory misjudge the location of objects. they felt confident enough to ‘leave’ the reference lines much sooner than participants in the first experiment. p5 0. the city seems so big suddenly!’ Space-time scale . as they thought they had already gone past them. ‘If I’m at location X. for evaluating the relative distances between locations. Thus. but which one is it?’ — ‘Is this what Tel Aviv looks like from above???’ — ‘What is this big building?’ Identification — ‘I decided to follow Ayalon Highway.. and it’s much easier to identify it on the air. as we may expect from a flying-based navigation mode. The transformation from the path-integration strategy to the position-based strategy in the second experiment can be verified when comparing the documentations of the experiments: the verbal reports (Table 1) and the trajectory patterns of the participants (Figure 5). (std. in the next section we present a comparison between real city and the virtual city concerning the imageability of the urban elements.976. Therefore. as it’s a major road. the urban image design enables a more intensive use of the position-based strategy. who used the position-based strategy. or a network of locations. no … this is Dizengoff Square…’.dimensional!’ — ‘In Tel-Aviv all the roads look the same . relying on dominant spatial features that are easily identified from a bird’s-eye view. relied mainly on the relations between the observed elements. an examination of the relation between the level of spatial knowledge and the wayfinding performance in experiment 2 shows an uncorrelated relation (a Pearson correlation of 0. A T-test confirmed these difference (t53. or not yet approached them. i. in addition to. here is the label telling me it is ‘X’’). namely. To summarize.’ — ‘I can see a junction. we can conclude that Lynch’s urban image theory can be applied in the design of virtual cities due to its capabilities to enhance wayfinding performance. it’ll be much easier. as well as for ‘confirmation’ (i. in the test where the design of the virtual model used urban image elements. wayfinding performance was significantly improved. Verbal documentation of difficulties during wayfinding tasks Verbal report of experiment 2 Verbal report of experiment 1 difficulties — ‘I feel that I’m getting lost!’ — ‘Which way is north?? If I can find the north. This finding is an additional indication that those with low level of configurational knowledge depend heavily on covering the area in which they are navigating with recognizable geographical objects. usually elements with which they were familiar from their everyday experience in the city. the participants in experiment 2.e. THE RELATION BETWEEN THE REAL CITY URBAN IMAGE AND THE VIRTUAL CITY IMAGE: IMPLICATIONS FOR DESIGN Figure 6a presents the imageable elements of the urban image of real Tel Aviv city.. This means that the urban image design of the virtual city improved the performance of all participants. Based on these findings..’ — ‘I understood the area I thought is the square is actually Habima Theater. p50.. 30.’ — ‘This is Hamedina Square? . and in several cases even instead of.043. However. the urban image elements function as aids for updating or ‘calibrating’ the users’ position (e. especially those with a low level of spatial knowledge. The urban image elements available improved wayfinding performance because with them the participants had fewer difficulties in recognizing familiar objects and in evaluating spatial relations between them (which is needed for orientation). Adding the imageable objects to the model provided a more legible and recognizable environment.136 m.001C). As illustrated in table 1.g. the terminology used was based mainly on descriptions of the reference points/lines.

(a) The urban image drawn by Tel Aviv residents appeared in the individual sketch maps.8 The Cartographic Journal COLOUR FIGURE Figure 6. . who performed the wayfinding tasks in the model without the highlighted urban image elements. Figure 6b presents the urban image of virtual Tel Aviv established by gathering the objects verbally mentioned (while looking for an object or viewing one) by the participants in experiment 1.

The elements that are characterized by a relatively high imageability during the .000). both are essentially similar. verified this conclusion (a Pearson correlation of 0.75. (b) The urban image of the objects mentioned during wayfinding tasks As one can gather from the visual comparison of the two images.9 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory COLOUR FIGURE Figure 6. A positive correlation between the appearance frequency of the urban-image elements in the cognitive maps and the appearance frequency of these elements when mentioned in the wayfinding tasks. p50.

even if they have a low physical identification level from the bird’seye-view. Classification of the imageable elements of real and virtual Tel Aviv. especially when dealing with large cities with an enormous number of objects.e. In addition. that is. the more . especially city squares. Another possible use is to focus on the integration between these three groups. the image that emerges during navigation in the virtual city is more a common one — that is one formed by elements mentioned by most of the participants. they can be easily identified from a bird’s-eye view. districts and edges are relatively less imageable than in the real city image. it may also confirm that a preconceived real urban image can be integrated into. they call on information they have from the real urban image to help them navigate in the virtual environment (see Figure 8). and economical aspect must also be taken into account. 1995.10 The Cartographic Journal COLOUR FIGURE Figure 7. as illustrated in Figure 7. the Ayalon Highway and the Hayarkon River. according to Lynch’s element types wayfinding tasks are mainly those with high physical identification. Moreover. a generalization process can be implemented for selecting which geographic objects will be presented when a new scale or perspective emerges during flying-based navigation i.. Rabin Square and Dizingoff Square were found to be main nodes of that image. those imageable particularly in the virtual city and those that are common for both — could be used for selecting the most appropriate objects for emphasis in order to enhance wayfinding performance. Figure 8. Distinction and integration between real and virtual city representations Comparing the real and the virtual city images provides information as to which elements should be highlighted. The elements that are characterized with a lower imageability in the virtual city are those with a low possibility of physical identification — small-size landmarks that have a unique morphology from a side-view (rather then from a bird’s-eye view) and districts such as the Neveh Zedek neighborhood. Therefore. Frery et al. the level of detail (LOD) in a design of a virtual model. The generalization process can be constructed taking into account the imageability of the urban elements as a source of knowledge that can be applied by generalization methods. the paths and nodes are relatively more imageable during navigation from a bird’s-eye view. As a result of these differences. which will help the virtual city’s user identify them.. the distinction between three groups of objects — those imageable particularly in the real city. One possible use of this distinction is to give priority to the group of particularly imageable elements of the real city. which stand out in the image that emerges during navigation. as well as elements with distinctive landscapes and boundaries such as Hayarkon Park. where the common imageable elements can serve as a link between the particular groups. this selection is one of the decisions that has to be made when creating virtual cities with the aim of enhancing wayfinding. Hamedina Square. Other elements that are easy to identify from a bird’s eye view are those with unique morphology. Thus. while the landmarks. 2004). The elements which were found to be very useful during navigation include large continuous elements.e. graphical clarity and understandability (Muller et al. such as legibility. which are mainly driven by communication requirements. which has no recognizable boundaries. As mentioned in the introduction. or participate in. the integration of the real city’s urban image into the virtual model enables users to identify imageable elements which are seen in the real city. One of the basic assumptions of Lynch’s urban image theory is that the more imageable the element. The close similarity between the real and the virtual urban images strengthens the hypothesis that Lynch’s urban image theory enables users to transform their spatial representation of the real city to its virtual counterpart. especially those developed for GIS and 3D visualization. and also to use elements that are particularly imageable from the bird’s-eye-view during flying based navigation mode. in particular the coastline. Selecting only part of the buildings to be constructed is advisable. the users’ representation that emerges during navigation i. Once the selection of the objects has been made. a fact to which the high frequency of the appearance of elements testifies (Figure 6).

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