Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31795
An Exploration of Sense of Place as Informative for Spatial Planning Guidelines: A Case Study of the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site, South Africa

Authors: Karen Puren, Ernst Drewes, Vera Roos


This paper explores the sense of place in the Vredefort Dome World Heritage site, South Africa, as an essential input for the formulation of spatial planning proposals for the area. Intangible aspects such as personal and symbolic meanings of sites are currently not integrated in spatial planning in South Africa. This may have a detrimental effect on local inhabitants who have a long history with the site and built up a strong place identity. Involving local inhabitants at an early stage of the planning process and incorporating their attitudes and opinions in future intervention in the area, may also contribute to the acceptance of the legitimacy of future policy. An interdisciplinary and mixed-method research approach was followed in this study in order to identify possible ways to anchor spatial planning proposals in the identity of the place. In essence, the qualitative study revealed that inhabitants reflect a deep and personal relationship with and within the area, which contributes significantly to their sense of emotional security and selfidentity. Results include a strong conservation-orientated attitude with regard to the natural rural character of the site, especially in the inner core.

Keywords: Place identity, Sense of Place, Spatial Planning, Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 2009


[1] UNESCO. (2007, May 8). World Heritage: Vredefort Dome. Available:
[2] FAIR TRADE IN TOURISM SOUTH AFRICA. (2007, May 10). Fair trade in tourism South Africa-s contribution to post apartheid transformation. Available:
[3] G.E. Holmes, J.R. Patterson & J.E. Stalling, "Sense of place: issues in counseling and development," Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, vol. 42, pp 238-251, 2003.
[4] B. Nanzer, "Measuring sense of place: a scale for Michigan," Administrative Theory and Praxis, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 362-382, 2004.
[5] M.E. Patterson and D.R. Williams, "Maintaining research traditions on place: diversity of thought and scientific progress," Journal of Environmental Psychology, no. 25, pp. 361-380, 2005.
[6] G. Raagmaa, "Regional identity in regional development and planning," European Planning Studies, vol.10, pp. 55-76, 2002.
[7] C. Hague & P. Jenkins, Eds. Place Identity, Participation and Planning. Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2005.
[8] Shamai, S. & Ilatov, Z. "Measuring sense of place: methodological aspects," Tijdschrift voor Economiesche en Sociale Geografie, vol. 96, no. 5, pp. 467-476, 2005.
[9] Y. Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. London: Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd, 1976.
[10] E. Relph, Place and placelessness. London: Pion Ltd, 1976.
[11] C. Norberg-Schulz, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. London: Academy Editions, 1980.
[12] K. Lynch, Image of the City. Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press, 1960.
[13] G. Cullen, The Concise Townscape. London: The Architectural Press, 1971.
[14] M. Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper and Row, 1971
[15] M. Carmona, T. Heath, T. Oc & S. Tiesdell, Public Places Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2003.
[16] G. Rose, "Place and identity: a sense of place", in A Place in the World? Places, Cultures and Globalisation, D. Massey and P. Jess, Eds, Oxford University Press/Open University Press, 1995.
[17] C. Spencer, "Place Attachment, Place Identity and the Development of the Child-s Self-Identity: Searching the Literature to Develop an Hypothesis," International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 305-309, 2005.
[18] K.M. Korpela, T. Hartig, F.G. Kaiser & U. Fuhrer, "Restorative Experience and Self-regulation in Favorite Places," Environment and Behavior, vol. 33, pp. 572-589, 2001.
[19] C. Day, Places of the Soul: Architecture and Environmental Design as a Healing Art. London : Thorsons, 1999.
[20] N.B. Groth, "Urban and regional identity challenged by globalisation," in European Cities in a Global Era: Urban identities and regional development, Miljoministeriet/Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning Department, Ed. Denmark: Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning Department, 2002.
[21] J. Urry, Consuming Places. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.
[22] R. Behrens & V. Watson, Making Urban Places: Principles and Guidelines for Layout Planning. Cape Town: UCT Press (Pty) Ltd, 1997
[23] CSIR, Guidelines for Human Settlement Planning and Design. Pretoria: CSIR Building and Construction Technology, 2000.
[24] GISCOE, Potchefstroom, South Africa. 2006.
[25] M. Alexander. (2007, May 8). The world-s biggest meteor crater. (Online). Available:
[26] U.S. Kűsel, Impact assessment of historic heritage resources in the Vredefort Dome conservation area. African Heritage Consultants CC, 2006.
[27] T. Cassidy, Environmental Psychology. Behaviour and Experience in Context. Psychology Press, 1997.
[28] K. Thwaites & I. Simkins, "Experiential Landscape Place: Exploring Experiential Potential in Neighbourhood Settings," Urban Design International, vol. 10, pp.11-22, 2005.
[29] K.O. Locker, "The challenge of interdisciplinary research," Journal of Business Communication, vol. 31, no. 2, pp.137-151, 1994.
[30] M. Nissani, "Fruits, salads, and smoothies: A working definition of interdisciplinarity," Journal of Educational Thought, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 121-128, 1995.
[31] J. Sumner. (2003). Relations of Suspicion: Critical Theory and Interdisciplinary Research. History of Intellectual Culture. (Online). 3(1). pp. 1-12. Available:
[32] N. Carayol and T.U. Nguyen Thi, "Why do Academic Scientists Engage in Interdisciplinary Research?" 2004
[33] J.W. Creswell, Educational research: planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merril, 2005.
[34] G.K. Huysamen, "Parallels between qualitative research and sequentially performed quantitative research," Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Sielkunde, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 1-8, 1997.
[35] K.J. Gergen, "Psychological science in a postmodern context," American Psychologist, vol. 56, no. 10, pp. 803-813, 2001.
[36] R.B. Johnson & A.J. Onwuegbuzie, "Mixed methods research: a research paradigm whose time has come," Educational Researcher, vol. 33, no. 7, pp. 14-26, 2004.
[37] J. Martin & J. Sugerman, "Between the modern and postmodern. The possibility of self and progressive understanding in psychology," American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 397-406, 2000.
[38] B.P. Kaltenborn & D.R. Williams, "The meaning of place: Attachments to Femundsmarka National Park, Norway, among tourists and locals," Norwegian Journal of Geography, vol. 56, pp. 189-198, 2002.
[39] E. Henning, Finding your way in qualitative research. Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik Publishers, 2005.
[40] E. Babbie, The practice of social research. 11th ed. Belmont: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007.
[41] S. Kvale, Interviews: an introduction to qualitative research interviewing. California: Sage Publication, 1996.
[42] L.R. Gay, G.E. Mills & P. Airasian, Educational Research. 11th ed. New Jersey: Ed.Pearson/Merril Prentice Hall, 2006.
[43] D. Harper, "Reimagining visual methods," in Handbook of qualitative research, 2nd Ed, N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2000, pp. 717-732.
[44] N. Burns & S.K. Grove, The practice of nursing research. Conduct, critique & utilization. 4th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 2001.
[45] Weber, S. (2003, November 2). About image based research. (Online). Available:
[46] W.L. Neuman, Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Allan and Bacon: Boston, 1997.
[47] J. Cohen, Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. 2nd ed. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum, 1988.
[48] B.P. Kaltenborn, "Nature of place attachment: a study among recreation homeowners in Southern Norway," Leisure Sciences, vol. 19, pp. 175- 189, 1997
[49] M.J. Milligan, "Interactional past and potential: the social construction of place attachment," Symbolic Interaction, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-33, 1998.
[50] B. Bognar, "A phenomenological approach to architecture and its teaching in the design studio," in Dwelling, place and environment: towards a phenomenology of person and world, D. Seamon and R. Mugerauer, Eds. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company, 2000, pp. 183-197.
[51] R. Lang, "The dwelling door: Towards a phenomenology of transition," Dwelling, place and environment: towards a phenomenology of person and world, D. Seamon and R. Mugerauer, Eds. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company, 2000, pp. 201-213.
[52] B.G. Peters, American Public Policy: Promise and Performance, 6th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2004.
[53] P.A. Bell, T.C. Greene, J.D. Fischer, & A. Baum, Environmental Psychology. Orlando, FL: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001.
[54] P.A. Bell, T.C. Greene, J.D. Fischer, & A. Baum, Environmental Psychology. Orlando, FL: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001.