When describing the city, initial ideas may be abstract rather than connected to real impressions or physical dimensions. The city can be interpreted metaphorically: as a tree, as a house with many rooms, as a machine—all of these ideas connect the city to theoretical schemes developed by architects and urban designers.

Abstract ideas can stimulate a new view of what the city could be. Many painters have described their impression of a city or place in terms of emotion, atmosphere, or experience. The abstraction may be a conceptual diagram that engenders an understanding of an initial idea. It may be a painting that is used to suggest an impression of a place. Or it could be a physical model that communicates an idea associated with ...

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