Dimensions of City Performance

Riachuelo environment in La Boca, Buenos Aires. Picture by Myriam Mahiques
In his book “Good City Form”, Kevin Lynch states that city performance can be measured solely by reference to the spatial form of the city. But, the quality of a place is due to the joint effect of the place and society which occupies it.
This is very important for researchers who see social groups behavior reflected in urban morphology. Then, the technology applied to unveil this, is the researcher’s selection.
Given the difficult task of constructing a limited set of performance dimensions for the spatial shape of cities, Kevin Lynch suggests the following five basic ones, all of them related to city’s qualities:

1.- VITALITY. The degree to which the form of the settlement supports the vital functions, the biological requirements and capabilities of human beings, in an anthropocentric criterion; the way in which environment supports the life of species.
2.- SENSE: The degree to which the settlement can be clearly perceived and mentally differentiated and structured in time and space by its residents and the degree to which that mental structure connects with their value concepts –the match between the environment, our sensory and mental capabilities, an our cultural constructs.
3.- FIT: the adequacy of the behavior settings, including their adaptability to future action.
4.- ACCESS: the ability to reach other persons, activities, resources, services, information or places.
5.- CONTROL: The degree to which the use and access to spaces and activities are controlled by those who use, work or reside in them.

city congestion in Vietnam.
Cloaca (main sewer) painting. From emturbsas.blogspot.com/2009

Then, Lynch adds two meta criteria:

6.- EFFICENCY: The cost, in terms of maintaining the settlement.
7.- JUSTICE: The way in which environmental benefits and costs are distributed among persons, according to some particular principle such as equity, need, intrinsic worth, ability to pay, effort expended, potential contribution or power.
Justice is the criterion which balances the gains among persons, while efficiency balances the gains among different values.

Trash in the city. Internet download


Lynch, Kevin. Good City Form. The MIT Press, Massachusetts, EEUU. 1981


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