Odor related experience and perception in contemporary urban environments

V. Clark Henshaw, Victoria Clark, T.J. A. Cox

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Much has been said in recent years about the dominance of the sense of sight in the design and management of urban environments. Other sensory modes are far less likely to be considered, resulting in what Rodaway (1994) terms, “a kind of hyper-realisation of vision”, being reflected in the design of towns and cities and the buildings and public spaces within them. Few dedicated studies have examined the role that the sense of smell can play in environmental experience and perception, and as a result a number of important questions are raised: What odors are commonplace in contemporary urban environments? How are they perceived? What is the relationship between smell and place perception? What tools are available to built environment professionals when designing olfactory environments? What are the related ethical implications and considerations when doing so? Drawing on evidence from sensory walks and semi-structured interviews with built environment professionals, licensees, workers and community representatives in Doncaster, England and residents in the English cities of Manchester, Sheffield and Clerkenwell, London, It is argued that the sense of smell plays an influential role in place expectation, experience and perception. The authors advocate the more detailed and frequent consideration of odor as part of mainstream urban development and management practices, but also suggest that any attempts to alter or regulate the urban olfactory environment require critical reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
EventAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Conference 2011 - Seattle, United States
Duration: 11 Apr 201116 Apr 2011


ConferenceAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Conference 2011
CitySeattle, United States


  • smell
  • perception
  • urban design
  • urban management


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