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Mental Maps:. Thinking Spatially. Do Now.

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mental maps

Mental Maps:

Thinking Spatially

do now
Do Now
  • On the blank sheet of paper your received at the door, draw a map of Lindblomfrom memory. Include as much detail as you possibly can: room numbers, offices, bathrooms, and anything else you believe is important enough to be on your map. DO NOT look at any maps or your neighbor’s paper.
guiding questions
Guiding Questions
  • What does it mean to think “spatially”?
  • How do you choose what to display on your mental map?
  • How do maps influence perceptions and reflect biases?
purpose of maps
Purpose of Maps
  • Class Brainstorm: What are the purposes maps?
  • Maps show the relationships of regions, geographical features, people, locations and other three-dimensional features on a two-dimensional surface.
purpose of mental maps
Purpose of Mental Maps

To perceive an environment as it relates to you.

Mental maps allow for insight into your own thought process and, when looking at other’s maps, allows for a greater understanding of how a location is perceived and the biases projected onto the location.

The point of mental maps is to help you start thinking about an environment differently.

thinking spatially
Thinking Spatially
  • Demonstrating relationship
  • Considering all four dimensions
  • Remaining self-aware and aware of surroundings
legends and scale on traditional maps
Legends and Scale on Traditional Maps
  • Legends are used to indicate the meaning of symbols on a map
  • Scale is used to demonstrate the proportions between the visual representation and reality
kevin lynch s 5 elements of perception
Kevin Lynch’s 5 Elements of Perception
  • Paths
  • Edges
  • Districts
  • Nodes
  • Landmarks

Paths consists of the "channels along which the observer customarily, occasionally, or potentially moves.”

These can include streets, paths, transit routes, or any other defined path of movement.

The paths an individual identifies may not correspond to a traditional street network.

These are often the most predominant items in an individual's mental map as this is main mechanism for how they experience their city/environment.


Edges provide the boundaries that separate one region from another, the seams that join two regions together, or the barriers that close one region from another.

They are linear elements, but are not the paths along with the individual experiences the built environment.

They can be physical edges such as shorelines, walls, railroad cuts, or edges of development, or they can be less well-defined edges that the individual perceives as a barrier.


Districts are "medium-to-large sections of the city.”

They are typically two-dimensional features, often held together by some commonality.

The individual often enters into or passes through these districts.


Nodes are points within the city, strategically located, into which the individual enters (and which is often the main focal point to which she or he is traveling to or from).

There are often junctions – a crossing or converging of paths.

They often have a physical element such as a popular hangout for the individual or a plaza area.


Landmarks are also a point-reference (similar to nodes).

However, unlike nodes, which the individual enters during his or her travels, landmarks remain external features to the individual.

They are often physical structures such as a building, sign, or geographic features (e.g. mountain).

The range of landmarks is extensive, but the commonality is that there are used by the individual to better understand and navigate the built environment.

map legend on a mental map
Map Legend on a Mental Map