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14. jún 2018 

How do you feel about your city?

Project gathering the feelings of citizens helps define the areas people like to go to and the perceived no-go zones.


A popular park, murky streets or a dirty square? Where do you like to spend time with friends and family in the city and where would you never go alone in the night? Share your feelings about the city with others and create a so-called Emotional Map (Pocitová Mapa).

An Emotional Map is a tool that encourages citizens of a city to participate in giving opinions
on public spaces in Slovak cities and towns. The maps could become one of the sources for
the municipality when planning investments, creating a transport concept or green areas.
“The aim of the maps is to increase interest in public spaces at the national level,” the website
of the project reads.
Currently, 21 Slovak cities and towns are involved in the project, including Bratislava,
Košice, Trnava and Banská Bystrica as well as Vysoké Tatry, Ružomberok, Michalovce,
Humenné and Brezno. The project emerged in Prešov as an initiative to help the local
municipality create a Manual of Public Spaces.

How does it work?

Anyone interested in sharing feelings about the town marks places on the map that come
under four categories: attractiveness of place, traffic, greenness and safety. Each category
consists of two questions, so eight questions need to be answered.
It is possible to mark several places on the map for each question. The respondent may decide
whether only to mark the point or to also write a short comment for each of the points.
The project is not only about collecting the data of problematic spaces. The authors want to
know where citizens feel good and safe in their city and what places they like and visit.
The creators of map try to gather feelings from every season of the year.

“Citizen of a city may have different feelings about it in winter and in summer,” said Michal
Burák from the Územné plány civic association behind the project, along with architects from
Atrium Architekti studio.
It is hard to say how many feelings are needed to create a map. However, when the same
places are connected with same feelings, subjective opinions turn into an objective sample,
Burák said.
Respondents are asked to fill in their age, gender and e-mail address at the end of the
interactive questionnaire. The map creators need data when two people mark he same street,
for example, with different feelings.
“Children, adults, pensioners as well as men and women may view one place differently,”
Burák told The Slovak Spectator, adding that they know for what age group and gender a
place induces positive or negative feelings. If the place is reconstructed after time, it may
change from a negative feeling to a positive one but other way is also possible.

Space for improvement

The most active are the citizens of Žilina, Bratislava and Košice, according to Burák. Almost
2,500 people overall participated in the project and shared almost 40,000 feelings.
The space in front of the railway station was marked with negative feelings in the majority of
participating cities. In general, respondents negatively viewed heavy traffic junctions and their
unfriendly relation towards pedestrians and cyclists, Burák noted.
Cities need to define their public spaces by creating principles and manuals on how to work
with them. The standard of the public space of advanced countries differs from ours, Burák said.
“We have a lot to improve,” he said, adding that luckily we can get inspired. He mentioned
the example of the spaces in front of railway stations. While in other countries, it is a space
full of life and a nice smell, the Slovak reality is often the opposite.
Another example is used material. While Slovaks mostly use tarmac for pavements, other
countries use stone or cobblestones.
“Besides the visual advantage of stone and cobblestones, it is better material when it comes to
local reconstruction,” noted Burák. It is enough to cut out and replace cobblestone; however,
with a tarmac pavement it is possible only to repair the holes.

Bratislava’s pros and cons

An emotional map with the answers of all participants is available for everyone who filled the
map with their own emotions. So it is possible to say how the citizens of the capital feel about
their city. Most people consider the castle, city centre, the riverbanks of Danube near Eurovea
and Sad Janka Kráľa in Petržalka to be places with high quality public spaces they like to

Unkempt places in Bratislava are mainly SNP Square, Kollárovo Square, Kamenné Square,
Obchodná Street and the Main Railway Station, according to data from the map.

For cyclists and pedestrians the best localities are Devín, Devínska Kobyla, Koliba and Lamač
in addition to the Old Town. On the other hand, the respondents mark Mlynské Nivy,
Račianske and Trnavské Mýto, Kamenné and Hodžovo Square in regards to traffic problems.

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