Trees in the urban context : a study on the relationship between meaning and design

Cihanger, Duygu
Urban places, besides their physical characteristics, are regarded as grounds where personal or communal meanings are created and accumulated. An individual can capture the meaning of a place, or create a new meaning by relying on his/her own feelings and experiences. This substantial role of urban places makes them the core concepts of environmental perception and urban design studies. This research, by discussing the idea of togetherness of meaning and design in urban spaces, presents trees both as place making and meaning generating features, and raises the term tree-places. The reason behind this is the capability of trees in terms of place formation, and their meanings for people which are shaped throughout the history. However, the attention of urban planners and designers towards working with trees in urban spaces is inadequate. They tend to focus solely on aesthetic appearances and biological contributions of trees. Moreover, trees are mostly thought afterwards, outside design processes. This attitude can be overcome through the identification of design principles with trees in urban exterior spaces. In this respect, this research presents a two-fold study, one of which is the meaning and the other is the design. Trees, in this context, are seen as the bridge connecting these two phenomena. While answering the question why trees have been chosen to relate meaning and design, an investigation is made on the deeply-rooted relationship between man and trees, and its traces on urban place. In order to strengthen the argument of the place making characteristics of trees, the existing urban places defined by trees are discussed under the term of tree-places. The study concludes with inferences from the theoretical discussions and case research that provide guidelines for urban design with trees. Trees are the essentials of people and cities, and the silent witnesses of history. For this reason, they are presented as valuable beings and design elements that create distinct urban places while supporting the concept of meaning.


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Citation Formats
D. Cihanger, “ Trees in the urban context : a study on the relationship between meaning and design,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.