Carnegie Mellon University
boyangl2_ms_soa_2023.pdf (42.12 MB)

Place as Palimpsest: Traces to Enhance Placemaking in Virtual Environment

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posted on 2023-08-24, 19:47 authored by Boyang Lin

Virtual environments have emerged as dynamic and immersive spaces that foster diverse user interactions and experiences. In the process of the creation and evolution of virtual places, challenges arise about how to make a good place in virtual environments. The majority of existing virtual environments suffer from a notable lack of traces, which refers to the visible evidence of human presence and activities within the space. This element is vital for successful placemaking, drawing from our experiences in creating successful places in physical environments. Drawing inspiration from the metaphor of place as palimpsest, this thesis sets out to explore how the concept of traces can be introduced from physical environments to virtual environments to enhance placemaking, examining how traces of user actions and interactions influences the process and results of placemaking. I chose the Carnegie Mellon University Fence as the case site and created a virtual environment based on it to conduct a multiplayer cycle study to explore the effect of traces in virtual environments. I employed a mixed-method approach, combining quantitative analysis of user data with qualitative investigation through user interviews to measure the social presence, cultural presence and sense of place and the traces’ effect on them. My findings highlight the transformative potential of the virtual traces, illustrating its role in enriching user experiences and promoting a more thoughtful and intentional approach to placemaking in virtual environments. As virtual environments continue to evolve and influence our lives, my work should be valuable for further exploration and design considerations in shaping meaningful virtual places. 




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Architecture

Degree Name

  • Master of Science in Computational Design (MSCD)


Daniel Cardoso Llach

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