The Cartographic Journal

Vol. 42 No. 1
The British Cartographic Society 2005

pp. 1–12

June 2005



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

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


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

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

2. 1996). In order to create a representative urban image. a list of nine well-known locations in Tel Aviv was read to them. In the last section. City Hall. We then gathered the data from the individual sketch maps into one aggregate map representing the residents’ urban image of Tel Aviv. only those elements that appeared in more than two sketch maps were included in this aggregate map. an area of about 50 square km. Though Lynch’s urban image theory has not been applied to the design of a virtual city. 1999. In cases where the urban image design is found to enhance wayfinding performance. we established a 3D visualization of the city terrain. as well as to create a common understanding of the assignment for all participants. We go on to report the findings of these experiments. . Two experiments were conducted by dividing the participants into two groups of 12. Darken and Sibert. we describe virtual Tel Aviv and the experiments and the methods used for their documentation and analysis. we also marked two very familiar landmarks along the coastline of Tel Aviv — the new Tel Aviv port and the old Jaffa port. The main national highway (Ayalon Highway) was also marked (Figure 2). Yehuda-Maccabi Street and the central bus station) and three other central locations (the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Then we added an orthophoto of Tel Aviv (in a resolution of 25 cm). In addition. the urban image framework can serve as an appropriate tool for this selection.) The first design did not include highlighted urban elements selected from the residents’ urban image. For example. Afterwards (in experiment 2) we added GIS layers of the Tel Aviv ‘urban image’ objects (paths. on which the municipal borders of Tel Aviv were marked. 1997). while in experiment 2 the design of the virtual model included highlighted urban elements from the residents’ urban image. and. this study can clarify whether these buildings could be selected based on the urban image elements. To that end. The conclusions of this study also have operative implications on the construction of virtual cities.. In order to give the respondents reference points. edges and districts) as shown in Figure 1. Using this software.2 landmarks. and they include six locations in the wayfinding tasks (the clock tower in Jaffa. nodes. 26 to 58 years of age. 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.1 Virtual Tel Aviv Virtual Tel Aviv offers the user a real-time flying-based navigation mode over Tel Aviv city. METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK 2. 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)’. 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. while in the second design highlighted elements were incorporated. The model was built in the Environmental Simulation Laboratory at Tel Aviv University with SkylineH 4. All participants declared they knew the city of Tel Aviv ‘well’. in the fourth section we suggest principles of using residents’ urban image in the design of virtual cities. the design of the virtual model did not include any highlighted landmarks. mostly with the photos of the facade textures. 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. two virtual city designs of Tel Aviv city were compared. which should be patterned together to provide an imageable environment. landmarks. While these studies do not involve real large-scale VE. involves vast amounts of money and time. None of these participants had taken part in drawing the sketch maps from which we evaluated the urban image for use in the experiments. In the next section. the importance of the relations between Lynch’s element types for navigation enhancement is emphasized in VE studies.2 The experiments Twenty-four participants (15 male and 9 female). 811). 2001.5 software. as accurately as you can’. and using these altitudes. 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. All participants were given the same instruction: ‘Please mark each of the above sites Con the map. the current virtual Tel Aviv model does not yet include 3D models of buildings. the Azrieli mall and the railway station). (The virtual model of Tel Aviv city will be referred to in this paper as ‘virtual Tel Aviv’.) The participants of both experiments had to complete the following steps: Phase 1: Each subject was provided with an A4 sheet of paper. On the basis of these findings. Habimah National Theater. We decided to limit the number of the elements to 15 so that only the most imageable elements would emerge. therefore. we summarize the results of the study and note some further work. its efficiency for enhancing wayfinding has been proved in many other VE studies. The aim of this paper is to study the effect that a virtual city design based on residents’ urban image has on wayfinding performance. In order to construct the urban image of Tel Aviv. The nine sites were those which were read to them at the beginning of the experiment. Such information allows us to define the spatial knowledge quality of the participants. p. 2. To make sure they were familiar with the city. a factor that might influence their behavior. These relations have been found to help users structure their spatial representation in differing scales (Vinson. In experiment 1. the Israel Museum. These objects were highlighted by colour C(different colours for linear and non-linear objects) and labels (as text next to the object). (In this experiment we added the residents` urban image as a GIS layer. took part in the experiments. This decision also has an economic aspect since constructing 3D models. 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.

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

during ‘flying– based’ navigation mode to locations that are beyond the visual field. while the Ayalon Highway dominated in the second task.. participants seemed to rely mainly on the path-integration strategy. Navigators use landmarks as cues for information on their position and how to arrive at a desired location during flying-based navigation mode. Although each participant used different methods for arriving at the destination objects.3 Methods of documentation and analysis a. In order to obtain these trajectory patterns. .e. 3. The participants were asked to verbally explain to us everything that came into their minds during navigation (strategies. 1999.0 software. a level of spatial knowledge that incorporates information concerning directions and the relative positions of places (Golledge. In other words. 2000).4 The Cartographic Journal geographical elements mentioned. The coastline was found to be a dominant reference line in the first task. common in human navigation in real environments: path-integration and position-based strategies (Loomis et al. Arrows represent the shortest flying path from each location to the next 2. thoughts. 1996. we are able draw conclusion regarding the influence of highlighted elements on the participants’ performance during wayfinding tasks with respect to strategies and difficulties. Murray et al. using the urban image design model that provided a network of locations in the observed simulated environment. b. participants tended to use the position-based strategy. ‘Think-aloud’ method: A ‘think-aloud’ or ‘self-report’ method (Golledge. In general terms.) while using the model (including the area on the interface as it was seen by the user). In experiment 1. height etc. questions. internal conflict. 2000) was implemented to reveal and understand the strategies and thoughts of the participants during the assignments. 1976. where the model did not include the urban image elements.. wayfinding strategies and difficulties during wayfinding tasks. the Ayalon Highway (to the east) and the Hayarkon River (to the north). This can be verified both by the verbal report (Table 1) and the trajectory patterns of the participants. Tracking movement: In order to investigate individual wayfinding performance. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 11. which tended to run close and parallel to these reference lines (Figure 5). RESULTS: HOW DOES THE URBAN IMAGE DESIGN INFLUENCE WAYFINDING IN A VIRTUAL CITY? COLOUR FIGURE Figure 3. Everything they said was recorded and later analysed.. or piloting strategy relies on recognizable landscape elements. the recorded real-time-log data was converted to GIS layers and then visualized as polylines in GIS layers in ArcGIS 8. Peruch et al.2 environment. means continued integration of largescale and angular components. Three main linear elements were found to be helpful while navigating: the coastline (to the west). 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. since adopting such a strategy requires a high level of configurational knowledge i. as cues for relating their position within the frame of reference (north. these elements fill three main functions in the path-integration strategy: as anchors for indicating the general direction towards the desired location. 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).. 1992. Such tracking enabled us to perform quantitative analysis of the trajectory patterns of participants during navigation. As can be learned from the verbal reports. until another ‘strong’ element is found. however.) and as transitional cues that provide a basis for interpreting mobility and relative scale during navigation. allowing estimation of direction and distance. Navigation by position-based. navigators will coincidently see single reference objects and from that object calculate the position of the target location. in experiment 2. we can classify these techniques into two basic wayfinding strategies.).. west . or dead reckoning strategy. However. speed. 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. The two tasks given to the participants and the task locations. Darken and Sibert. Path-integration.

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

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. This fact can be related to the difficulty participants had in recognizing familiar objects from a bird’s-eye view. making it hard for them to evaluate spatial relations needed for orientation. a city square for example. (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.033). 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. This correlation shows that participants who had a more accurate representation of the city were able to navigate more efficiently in the virtual model. The influence of urban image design on track patterns of the participants: (a) without design.6 The Cartographic Journal Figure 5. Because of this. as a longer path may indicate that the participant didn’t know the target’s exact location.615. 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). which caused them to . respectively). a view that characterizes a flying-based navigation mode. it is extremely difficult for the user to identify it without seeing its surroundings (or a label with its name). For example. (b) with design. while the length of the flying path serves as an indictor for wayfinding performance. (I) the coastline as reference line. Participants also experienced problems estimating speed of movement. but they also have difficulty getting used to their proportions (Table 2). p50. when an object or an area has a familiar shape. In addition.

136 m. which was found to be a dominant strategy when the model design did not include the highlighted elements. 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. or not yet approached them.. I can go on from here towards the target location’). Thus.’ — ‘I understood the area I thought is the square is actually Habima Theater. usually elements with which they were familiar from their everyday experience in the city. wayfinding performance was significantly improved. and in several cases even instead of. 30. The verbal terminology used in each strategy is also different. The total length of the flying paths in experiment 1 was 52. as well as for ‘confirmation’ (i. (std. when the identified locations function as a network of locations or as positional information for confirming location. p50. the terminology used was based mainly on descriptions of the reference points/lines. No. Adding the imageable objects to the model provided a more legible and recognizable environment. Therefore. the participants in experiment 2. relying on dominant spatial features that are easily identified from a bird’s-eye view.e. This means that the urban image design of the virtual city improved the performance of all participants. this is why I’m looking for the labels. they felt confident enough to ‘leave’ the reference lines much sooner than participants in the first experiment. namely. and it’s much easier to identify it on the air. for evaluating the relative distances between locations. 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 the labeled objects served as positional information for a location. 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). the availability of recognizable urban features enables a continuous update of the current position during navigation.043.e. — ‘But wait a minute! Which square is this??’ — ‘It takes me time get used to the proportions . but I can’t identify it!’ — ‘It’s difficult when it’s not three. the objects that Table 2. When comparing the two experiments.. or a network of locations. In suggesting principles for such design. in addition to.’ Lack of orientation — ‘I couldn’t identify Dizingoff square without the label!’ — ‘I know the cinema should be here. especially those with a low level of spatial knowledge. relied mainly on the relations between the observed elements. the participants in experiment 2 continuously updated their position using the highlighted elements. 4. ‘This element should be ‘X’ […] yes. the city seems so big suddenly!’ Space-time scale . ‘If I’m at location X. p5 0. i.7 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory misjudge the location of objects.. However. the urban image elements function as aids for updating or ‘calibrating’ the users’ position (e.dimensional!’ — ‘In Tel-Aviv all the roads look the same . and in several cases even instead of. the urban image design enables a more intensive use of the position-based strategy.g. Based on these findings. 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. here is the label telling me it is ‘X’’).. as we may expect from a flying-based navigation mode. who used the position-based strategy. As illustrated in table 1.043 mC (std.895).. 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).. While in the first experiment (without the urban image design). df5(22). Notice that this relation was significantly correlated in experiment 1. in the test where the design of the virtual model used urban image 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. no … this is Dizengoff Square…’. as it’s a major road..467 m).976. Wayfinding strategies changed significantly in experiment 2. in addition to. in the next section we present a comparison between real city and the virtual city concerning the imageability of the urban elements.774 m) while in experiment 2 it was 15. as they thought they had already gone past them. the path-integration wayfinding strategy. it’ll be much easier. 9. A T-test confirmed these difference (t53. This environment provided the conditions for adopting a position-based strategy. 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. To summarize.’ — ‘This is Hamedina Square? . The trajectory patterns also illustrate this transformation: When the urban image labels were available for the users. 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. where no highlighted elements were available (see Figure 5).’ — ‘I can see a junction.001C).

8 The Cartographic Journal COLOUR FIGURE Figure 6. . (a) The urban image drawn by Tel Aviv residents appeared in the individual sketch maps. 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.

both are essentially similar. (b) The urban image of the objects mentioned during wayfinding tasks As one can gather from the visual comparison of the two images.000). verified this conclusion (a Pearson correlation of 0.9 Virtual City Design Based on Urban Image Theory COLOUR FIGURE Figure 6. p50. The elements that are characterized by a relatively high imageability during the .75. 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.

as well as elements with distinctive landscapes and boundaries such as Hayarkon Park. 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. One possible use of this distinction is to give priority to the group of particularly imageable elements of the real city.e. Therefore. 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. Hamedina Square. 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. especially city squares. The elements which were found to be very useful during navigation include large continuous elements. the distinction between three groups of objects — those imageable particularly in the real city. especially those developed for GIS and 3D visualization. they can be easily identified from a bird’s-eye view. or participate in. the users’ representation that emerges during navigation i. it may also confirm that a preconceived real urban image can be integrated into. especially when dealing with large cities with an enormous number of objects.e. that is. As a result of these differences. which stand out in the image that emerges during navigation. 1995. Thus. this selection is one of the decisions that has to be made when creating virtual cities with the aim of enhancing wayfinding. graphical clarity and understandability (Muller et al. As mentioned in the introduction. the paths and nodes are relatively more imageable during navigation from a bird’s-eye view. which has no recognizable boundaries.. such as legibility. 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. 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. Frery et al. districts and edges are relatively less imageable than in the real city image. 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. Other elements that are easy to identify from a bird’s eye view are those with unique morphology. in particular the coastline. 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. where the common imageable elements can serve as a link between the particular groups. the Ayalon Highway and the Hayarkon River. the more . according to Lynch’s element types wayfinding tasks are mainly those with high physical identification. Selecting only part of the buildings to be constructed is advisable..10 The Cartographic Journal COLOUR FIGURE Figure 7. Figure 8. Another possible use is to focus on the integration between these three groups. they call on information they have from the real urban image to help them navigate in the virtual environment (see Figure 8). a fact to which the high frequency of the appearance of elements testifies (Figure 6). 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. the level of detail (LOD) in a design of a virtual model. which are mainly driven by communication requirements. In addition. while the landmarks. as illustrated in Figure 7. 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. Rabin Square and Dizingoff Square were found to be main nodes of that image. 2004). and also to use elements that are particularly imageable from the bird’s-eye-view during flying based navigation mode. and economical aspect must also be taken into account. Moreover. which will help the virtual city’s user identify them. One of the basic assumptions of Lynch’s urban image theory is that the more imageable the element. Once the selection of the objects has been made.

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