Situational Atmospheres: Filmmaking Approaches for Conveying Urban Design

Situational Atmospheres: Filmmaking Approaches for Conveying Urban Design

Hisham Abusaada (Housing and Building National Research Center (HBRC), Egypt) and Abeer Elshater (Ain Shams University, Egypt)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3856-2.ch011
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This chapter examines how placemaking and filmmaking can improve teaching urban design-based situations of atmospheres. The qualitative-deductive form of content analysis addresses atmospheres in four Egyptian and American films and thus creates a conceptual framework for design strategy in studio of urban design. In this chapter, the authors discuss this framework with regard to the works of the Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz. They show that filmmaking and placemaking are similar in the intellectual discourse because both produce ideas, themes, and events together with architectural elements and experience of everyday life. The findings highlight the impact of local architecture on the quantitative and nonquantitative factors that create affective atmospheres. The theoretical argument proved that the process of filmmaking could constitute a method for teaching in urban design studios and urban design history. The conclusion gives an action plan to use cinematic works as a tool for enhancing teaching affective atmospheres in urban-design studios.
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For decades, the concept of atmospheres has been one of the prevailing issues in many fields of humanities, such as physical sciences (Beggs, Šikoparija, & Smith, 2017; Reichler, 2009), artworks (Egan, 2014; Hsu, 2017), as well as architecture (Ford, 2012; Jenner, 2013; Semper, 2004, 2011). However, many of the theories of environmental design have devoted considerable space to the atmospheres from a purely technical perspective, whether natural or physical (Lenzhölzer, 2010; Pelsmakers, 2012). Besides, recent philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists see atmospheres as a cognitive phenomenon, which relates to sensation and corporeality (Li et al., 2016; Merleau-Ponty, 2002; Schmitz, 1967, 2017; Schmitz, Owen, & Slaby, 2011).

According to them, atmospheres are perceived as an invisible thing that changes an individual’s mood after influencing his/her feelings through the notion of the felt body experience (Abusaada, 2020; Schmitz, 2017; Schmitz et al., 2011). One of the crucial topic researchers have investigated in this field is perceptual qualities, which are related to the visual-aesthetic dimensions (Böhme, 1998; Li et al., 2016; Schmitz et al., 2011). Some architectural branches have addressed urban atmospheres as a human phenomenon, especially those which are associated with senses and behaviour, such as landscape architecture (Weidinger, 2016; Zhang, Cha, & Constable, 2014) and urban planning and design (Abusaada & Elshater, 2019; Buser, 2014; Stefansdottir, 2017). They, along with others, have rated the atmospheres as an aesthetic phenomenon in everyday life situations (Böhme, 1998; Borch, 2015; Griffero, 2014; Labuhn, 2016). Some of them have observed that atmospheres in the artworks (including novels, cinema, and architecture) are a purely satisfying emotional experience effect on the perceptual qualities of outdoor places in the city (Abusaada, 2019; Ford, 2012; Jenner, 2013; Semper, 2004).

Only a few previous types of architectural research have used the concepts of urban atmospheres (Augoyard, 2007; Stefansdottir, 2017), affective atmospheres (Bissell, 2010; Buser, 2014; Michels & Steyaert, 2017), and urban ambiance (Stefansdottir, 2017; Thibaud, 2002) as widespread phenomena, including human, natural, physical, psychological, and behavioural aspects of design (Abusaada, 2019; Böhme, 2017; Labuhn, 2016; Pallasmaa, 2014; Zumthor, 1998, 2006). Over time, many thinkers have revealed that urban environments have situations that can change the characteristics of the built environment, and, by changing these characteristics, the indications of people’s impressions towards these characteristics change, which are evident in people’s response and reactions in the body and faces (Abusaada & Elshater, 2019; Dewey, 2005, 1984; Pallasmaa, 2014).

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