An empirically validated framework for investigating the perception of density

Patil, Madhavi Prashant and Romice, Ombretta (2024) An empirically validated framework for investigating the perception of density. ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research. ISSN 1938-7806 (

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Purpose In urban studies, understanding how individuals perceive density is a complex challenge due to the subjective nature of this perception, which is influenced by sociocultural, personal and environmental factors. This study addresses these complexities by proposing a systematic framework for comprehending how people perceive density within urban contexts. Design/methodology/approach The methodology for developing the framework involved a systematic review of existing literature on the perception of density and related concepts, followed by integrating insights from empirical investigations. The framework designed through this process overcomes the limitations identified in previous research and provides a comprehensive guide for studying perceived density in urban environments. Findings The successful application of the framework on case studies in Glasgow and international settings enabled the identification of 20 critical spatial factors (buildings, public realm and urban massing) influencing density perception. The research provided insights into the subjective nature of density perception and the impact that spatial characters of urban form play, demonstrating the framework's effectiveness in understanding the impact of urban form, which is the realm of design and planning professions, on individual experiences. Originality/value The paper's originality lies in its comprehensive synthesis of the existing knowledge on the perception of density, the development of a user-responsive framework adaptable to future research and its application in case studies of different natures to identify recurrent links between urban form and user-specific constructs.