Carnegie Mellon University
devikas_Masters_Design_2019.pdf (33.86 MB)

Designing for Discovery, Encouraging Exploration and Understanding of Places through Cartographic Systems

Download (33.86 MB)
posted on 2019-07-03, 20:51 authored by Devika SinghDevika Singh
This Master’s thesis investigates the intersection of understanding place through cartographic visualizations and the real-world experience of it. As technology becomes deeply embedded in the environment, multiple products and resources mediate our perception and limit our understanding of spaces by distancing us from the natural world. In an effort to revive and strengthen our connections with the places in which we live, work, and play, it is critical to conduct studies that require us to question and engage the meaning of place.

Through a series of exploratory studies and the design of prototypes, this thesis explores how maps and city features can be visualized and experienced in a manner that facilitates a deep immersion and understanding of place. It investigates the impact that environmental perception and interaction has on individuals to create necessary conceptual frameworks that aid in building mental models. The study leverages insights gained from information design and emergent technologies to define how maps influence, augment, and at times, distort how people understand the city landscape. Guided by the Experience Cycle (Dubberly and Evenson, 2008), this research describes how design can ignite people’s curiosity about places, and subsequently nudge them to explore and discover important attributes about their environments.

As a result of research conducted, this project proposes multiple lenses for viewing the urban environment, using design as a tool to trigger curiosity and motivate the exploration of places through active engagement in the physical world. Designing points of intervention with the environment has the potential to inform people’s everyday behavior and guide their participation, role, and agency in that system. Given it’s deep investigation into aiding the exploration and discovery of places, this study also offers information and approaches that can serve as a foundation for further work on the design of rich place-based interactions that enable people to build connections with their environments.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Design

Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Stacie Rohrbach

Usage metrics




    Ref. manager