The Visual Codes Associated to Sport: an Interpretation of Public Space

Marcus Willcocks

*Corresponding author: Marcus Willcocks

Original Language

Cite this article

Willcocks, M. (2008). The Visual Codes Associated to Sport: an Interpretation of Public Space. Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 91, 89-100.



This paper consolidates some of what was learned from a visual, design-focussed research approach to studies of public spaces used for sporting activity. It starts from the base of research previously conducted linked into social networks, sport and public space (Puig y Maza, 2008). The article assumes that, where social networks can develop from the practice of sport in public spaces, there is a better chance of maintaining said ‘quality of life’ in the respective spaces and for those that use them. The specific focus of this paper draws on a perspective offered by ‘user-centred’ design practice to analyse how certain elements found in public spaces can combine to define or communicate visual codes, which to many people may just appear as disconnected specific details of spaces, but which to practitioners of particular sports, the same elements communicate as key ‘ingredients’ sought by that sporting activity and its associated social networks. Accordingly the ‘visual codes’ emitted by a space play a part in determining if sport is ‘played’ there or not, and if so – which type(s) and between who.


Keywords: Affordance, Appropriation, Interpretation, Spatial Design, Visual Code.

ISSN: 1577-4015

Published: January 1, 2008