The Bartlett School of Architecture


Scents of Place

Jackie Lee

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The olfactory sense is the most primal of our senses, and is arguably the most powerful and evocative because it is more closely linked with memory and emotion than any other. Scents of Places highlights the importance and complexities of olfactory experiences in everyday life and the often-forgotten role of scent-sensory engagement in design and urban space. 

Scents of Places focuses on a journey that tries to capture and recreate the ephemerality of olfactory experiences using a method of fragrance extraction that takes the form of steam distillation. The aim of the project is to distill the essence of a place and to hold still a moment in time that would otherwise be fleeting.

My journey deals with senses of familiarity in space, and therefore follows a chosen route through my neighbourhood in West London, through the streets between Notting Hill Gate and Westbourne Park underground stations. My process of fragrance extraction maps the city through the sense of smell, and in so doing situates body and mind through sensory engagements with the external world.

Scents of Places is both my personal sensory exploration of my surroundings in an attempt to gain a sense of familiarity with them, and a way for audiences to engage more fully with their own sensory embodiment.