Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The cities have their own smell identity

There's something about cities that gives them their identity. Major cities around the world are distinguishable by many factors, colors, people, economic activity, and especially its odors.

If you travel often, you know what I mean; every city has its smell. San Francisco smells differently from New York and Los Angeles. Cancun in Mexico also has a particular smell, and so do many other cities.

Smells can be pleasant or disgusting, and it usually improves in less populated areas, variables such as the amount of sewage, vehicles, stray animals, street commerce, factories, and others, contribute to worsening the overall ambiance.

In less populated areas, the abundance of nature makes it pleasant to smell, except maybe farms, farm animal's excrement is not an enjoyable smell.

But the musty scent of the forest, combined with wood and the water from streams is agreeable and satisfying. The smell of the beach immediately makes us feel on vacations if I say "beach smell" you know what I mean.

Cities famous for their food and bakery tend to have delicious smells coming out from many restaurants and boulangeries in their main avenues. Certain smells make people have visions of color and atmospheres. The smell of smoke makes people think of red because of the feeling of traffic jams.

Often, pleasant smells are related to the soil of certain parts of cities when it rains. Unpleasant smells come out of sewers, of places that sell raw food such as fish, entertainment venues where many people gather and the restrooms at those places.

We know that smell is the most powerful sense, thanks to it we create memories that linger in our subconscious mind for the rest of our life, we also understand that it is possible to alter our sense of wellbeing by introducing the right smell at the right time.

Why not put all this knowledge to use? If architects were to work with neuroscientists, city planning could intentionally favor pleasant smells to improve the living experience of as many inhabitants as possible.

This intentional use of smell science could help develop smellscapes, just like landscaping entices our eyes; smellscaping will please our nose and assist in the creation of memorable experiences and memories.

Expressions such as "It smells like New York" or the name of your preferred city will be a constant in everyday conversations.

There is a lot to explore in the field of sensory experiences, but current knowledge allows manipulating the senses to achieve specific things in people that could improve coexistence.

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