As I sit here pondering the relation of Lynch’s 5 Elements of a City and how they relate to our interior environment, I am instantly flooded with memories of my first way-finding moments experienced inside our very own SCAD Atlanta building.
This building, as we are all aware, can be quite confusing to navigate. In fact, to be completely honest, it is quite possibly the most confusing one I have ever experienced. Despite its confusing layout, I was quickly able to orient myself to its interiors during my first days of exposure to it. I now realize that this was due, in large part, to the 5 distinct elements found in the space. The Path, Edges, Districts, Nodes and Landmarks.
Naturally we implement these 5 elements into navigating interiors without taking conscious note of their presence. For example, we quickly learn when to turn off the Path into our studio (District) based on what images (Landmarks) are on the display boards (Edges). Interior design projects are on display in front of the interior design studios, photos are on display in front of the photography studio, fashion pieces
are outside the fashion studios, and so forth. We use these landmarks to not only give a personality to our space, but also as a way to make sure we are in the right location. Furthermore, these landmarks often help define not only our districts but also our nodes. Right now the landmark that helps orient me to my studio consists of the multiple large cardboard spaces created by the first year students.
This landmark sits at the end of the studio and also acts as an Edge. In addition, there are clearly defined Paths around the display that note the intended use of the space. Truly, all of these elements are necessary for the orientation and personality of interior spaces.
With a quick analysis, one can easily see how Lynch’s 5 Elements of a city can seamlessly be applied to our interior environments. From Nodes, such as the security desk
found at second level of the main student entrance, to the Districts of our studios we continuously rely on the 5 elements. We use theses to not only find our way, but to also define our sense of place. These elements allow us to effortlessly organize seemingly chaotic spaces into cohesive interiors. Without these elements we would surly lack the sense of order we make out of the disarray of some interiors. Now try to ask me about the navigation on the upper floors of this building, and I would not know where to begin. I suppose I will just have to discover the distinct 5 elements of those floors. Without them, I am completely lost.