- Sense walking and in-depth interviews were used to analyze the richness of smell and taste senses in urban space.
- The experience of the senses of smell and taste and the dimension of time and place mutually affect each other.
- The richness of the senses of smell and taste affects the enhancement of the memorability and identity of the urban space.
Everyday urban experience is achieved through the process of perception and sense experience through sensory organs. Living in a multi-sensory environment is inevitable, and the experience of encountering sights, smells, and sounds makes it possible to know the environment. It seems that in different urban spaces of Iran, taking into account the native conditions of the environment and current traditions among the people, the role of sensory landscapes and its effect on the quality of the urban space requires more investigations. The main problem of the current research is the need to pay more attention to the issue of "sensory richness" and analyze its indicators and examples as one of the important qualities of the urban space, with an emphasis on the two senses of smell and taste. Based on this, the present article aims to explain the process of recognizing and analyzing an urban space with an emphasis on improving the quality of sensory richness in the two areas of smell and taste senses.
Regarding the sense of smell, the variety of smells, the presence of sources of smells in the environment, smells dependent and related to time, consistent smells, smells of passers-by, and smelling comfort are among the indicators that, according to sources, affect the richness of the space. There are also researches about the effect of the sense of smell in the urban space, in the context of racial, ethnic, native, historical and cultural contexts, and it shows the effect of different cultural contexts on the transmission of social meanings and values and the display of historical heritage through the sense of smell in an urban space.
Regarding the sense of taste, while emphasizing the dependence and direct connection of this sense with the sense of smell, the presence of fruitful plants, local memories related to the experience of taste in space, and the presence of land uses that stimulate taste have an effect on the richness of the sense of taste.
In order to conduct this research, the "qualitative" strategy has been used to collect and analyze data. In the first step, the review of library resources was carried out with the aim of compiling the theoretical framework of the research and extracting effective indicators in the thematic area of sensory richness. After that, the indicators obtained from this part were analytically recognized and field studied in two steps in the studied sample; In the first step, the sensory perception of the environment was carried out by "sensory walking" with the help of field survey by one of the researchers as an urban studies expert. After that, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 space users. These numbers were selected as available samples and the interviews were continued until reaching a kind of "theoretical saturation" and repeated answers. The data obtained from the interviews were coded in "Atlas" software and subjected to content analysis.
Results and Discussion
The findings of the interviews revealed the deep dimensions of the smell experience along the way for users. In these interviews, special users with a keen sense of smell were mentioned many times along the way. In some of these comments, the use of smell to remember the length of the route and even addressability was clearly evident. This issue, while clarifying the process of tracking odor sources by space users, shows the effect of place and the inseparable dependence of sensory experiences with place.
In a deeper layer, the analysis of the interviews shows that remembering and recalling smell experiences, especially in urban spaces with historical qualities, is very tied to nostalgia and memory and has an effect on deepening the sense of belonging to a place. This issue is very important from the analytical point of view of urban space. Context—which can be a set of antecedent conditions or facts about a place or a particular event in it—plays a decisive role in the quality of the smellscapes in a place.
The findings show that in the sensory experience of Hafez Street, in particular, the presence of "orange trees" as an example of the "fruitful plants" index, in addition to the possibility of simultaneously deepening the senses of smell and taste, to the perception of the "sense of time" as well as the "memorability of space" and Also, "identifying the sensory experience of the path" has also been effective. In the experience of the sense of taste along this path, as expected, the findings indicate the effect of the use of taste stimuli on the deepening of the sensory experience of space and its perception.
Among the indicators of the quality of the senses of smell and taste, "smell comfort", "presence of fruitful plants" and "memorable uses with taste stimulation", have a greater role in the experience process of citizens' environmental perception. Also, in the analysis of the findings from the qualitative survey, it is possible to emphasize the two-way relationship between the deepening of the "sense of smell" and the memorability and identity of the place, as well as the reciprocal relationship of "perception of time" with the depth of the smell sensory experience.
It seems that, especially in urban spaces with historical value, paying attention to the identity aspects of odors from natural resources or users with an identity smell or taste experience, both in the layer of future research and in the layer of executive plans, can have a multifaceted effect on improving the quality of the space and help deepen the sense of belonging to the place among the users.