The Mobile Imagination: Walking-mapping-narrating Landscape Futures

  • Alison B. Hirsch
  • Aroussiak Gabrielian University of Southern California
Keywords: Walking, mapping, narrative, design, urban landscape, Broadway, mobile fieldwork


This article considers the continued agency of the body in movement as an active means of reading and reimagining the urban landscape. Using a design study, which reconsiders the gridded island of Manhattan through a walk down Broadway, the article introduces an activist landscape design methodology where field walking as exploratory mapping yields multilinear narratives to generate landscape futures. The article begins with a description of this study, then transitions into its broader situation within and implications for landscape architectural methodology.


Ballon, Hilary (ed), (2012) The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011. New York: Museum of the City of New York/Columbia University Press.

Bataille, Georges (1987) Erotism: Death and Sensuality. San Francisco: City Lights Books.

Bonaventura, Allegra di (2007) Beating the bounds: Property and perambulation in early New England.” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, 19(2), 115-148.

Careri, Francesco (2002) Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice. Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili SL.

Chase, John, Crawford, Margaret, and Kaliski, John (eds.) (1999/2008) Everyday Urbanism. New York: Monacelli.

Corner, James (1999) The Agency of mapping. In Cosgrove, Denis (ed.) Mappings. New York: Reaktion Books, 213-252.

Cosgrove, Denis (1999) .Mapping meaning.” In Cosgrove, Denis (ed). Mappings. New York: Reaktion Books, 1-20.

Cresswell, Tim (2002) Introduction: Theorizing place. In Verstraet, G. & Cresswell, T. (eds). Mobilizing Place, Placing Mobility. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 11-32.

Cronon, William (1996) The Trouble with wilderness. In Cronon, William (ed). Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: Norton & Co, 69-81.

Debord, Guy (1970) The Society of the Spectacle. Kalamazoo, MI: Black and Red (translation of the 1967 original text).

De Certeau, Michel (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Di Palma, Vittoria, (2008) Zoom: Google Earth and global intimacy. In Vittoria di Palma, Periton, Diana, Lathouri, Marina (eds.) Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City. London/New York: Routledge, 239-270.

Hirsch, Alison (2016) Expanded ‘Thick description’: The landscape architect as critical ethnographer. In Anderson, Jonathon, and Ortega, Daniel (eds.) Innovations in Landscape Architecture. London/New York: Routledge, 145-160.

Holston, James, and Appadurai, Arjun (1998) Introduction: Cities and citizenship. In Holston, James (ed.) Cities and Citizenship, Durham, NC: Duke University, 1-18.

Jacks, Ben (2004) Reimagining walking: Four Practices. Journal of Architectural Education, 57(3), 5-9.

Jacobs, Jane (1958) Downtown is for People. Fortune (April).

Lang, Peter (2007) Stalker on location. In Franck, Karen and Stevens, Quentin (eds.) Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life. New York: Routledge, 193-209.

Lefebvre, Henri (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Long, Richard and Hooker, Denise (2005) Walking the Line. London: Thames & Hudson.

Massey, Doreen (2005). For Space. London: Sage.

Manovich, Lev (2001) The Language of New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Raley, Rita (2015) Walk this Way: Mobile narrative as composed experience. In Schafer, Jorgen and Gendolla, Peter (eds.) Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literary Structures, Interfaces and Genres. Bielefeld: Transcript, 299-316.

Repton, Humphry (1976) The Red Books (Facsimile edition) London: Basilisk Press.

Rykwert, Joseph (1976) The Idea of a Town. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Sanderson, Eric (2009). Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. New York: Abrams.

Sheller, Mimi and Urry, John (2006) The New Mobilities Paradigm. Environment and Planning A 38(2), 207-226.

Stilgoe, John (1976) Jack·o'·lanterns to Surveyors: The secularization of landscape boundaries. Environmental Review 1(1), 14-30.

The Greatest Grid: A Call for Ideas, (2011). Http:// Accessed April 9, 2018.

Thoreau, Henry David (2012) Walking, 1863. In Cramer, Jeffrey, S. (ed.) The Portable Thoreau. New York: Penguin Classics, 555-590.

Wiley, Danielle (2010) A walk about Rome: Tactics for mapping the urban periphery. Architectural Theory Review 15(1), 9-29.

Wolf, Mark J.P. (2012) Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation. New York/London: Routledge.