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New Paper in Cities: Relationships between Sense of Place and Urban Facilities

Demographic histograms of respondents from a Lisbon survey © Westerholt et al. (2022)

Urban facilities, understood as publicly accessible establishments characterising the functional mix of urban environments, are multi-faceted. They include shops, places of worship, government institutions, and others that usually appear together and form local functional contexts. We do not always consciously perceive all of these institutions as we walk past them, but their presence still very likely influences our sense of being in a place at a subconscious level. The impact of these holistic urban functional environments on sense of place is the focus of a Lisbon case study that we published in the journal Cities as the result of an international collaboration. The data collection was done through a web mapping-supported survey, where we not only collected traditional survey responses, but also asked respondents to draw spatial footprints of places that are meaningful to them on a map. In this way, we were able to operationalise, firstly, a psychological model of sense of place that encompasses three dimensions: place dependence, place attachment, and place identity. On the other hand, the polygons allow us to connect the given answers with point features describing urban facilities, which we extracted from Google Places. These different aspects were then fed into a structural equation model to operationalise latent constructs representing the three aforementioned dimensions of sense of place and different types of categories of urban facilities. A main finding of our research is that temporal rhythm, that is, the nature of recurrent interaction with and at places, seems to play a central role in the relationship between urban facilities and sense of place. The modelling results show that exposure to everyday urban facilities such as grocery shops is negatively correlated with place identity, while facilities that are leisure places are negatively correlated with place attachment. A notable difference between these two categories is the frequency with which people typically interact with them (among other differences related to functionality and other aspects). A second important finding that emerges from the first is that people find places meaningful even when they are negatively associated with certain dimensions of sense of place. Despite the negative associations revealed, many respondents described the corresponding areas as personally meaningful. The latter finding leads to a third result of our research, namely that terms such as supermodernity, non-place, and placelessness do not appear in extreme form in our results. Even transit spaces frequently described as anonymous and placeless are reported and thus seem to have certain place-making qualities, which necessitates a more differentiated consideration of these terms.

Further conclusions, details, and policy recommendations can be found in the full article:

Westerholt, R., Acedo, A. and Naranjo-Zolotov, M. (2022): Exploring sense of place in relation to urban facilities – evidence from Lisbon. Cities, volume and issue pending. DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2022.103750.




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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

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