These Smell-Maps Of London Will Blow Your Mind (And Nostrils)

Lucy Bloxham Lucy Bloxham

These Smell-Maps Of London Will Blow Your Mind (And Nostrils)

Anyone that has ever visited London will agree that it is one hell of a smelly city. We don’t necessarily mean smelly in a ‘stinky‘ sense (although stinky it most definitely can be), but rather smelly in an odorous, memory-revoking, thought-provoking sense. It’s near impossible to walk down a street without detecting a variety of scents: exhaust fumes, drains, fragrant flowers or freshly-baked bread, there are smells everywhere. The sign of a beautiful and alive city in our eyes. The question is, do London streets have their own particular scent? Does one smell prevail over all others? Well, scientists have compiled their research and have created some incredible colour-coded smell maps to indicate the smelliest (and which smelliest we’re talking about) parts of London.

This, is a smellwheel (just stay with us, ok?)

The smellwheel shows us what kind of smells researchers were looking at. With this in mind… the team (consisting of Daniele Quercia, Luca Maria Aiello, Rossano Schifanella and Kate McLean) then collected data on when smells (or smell-related words) were mentioned on social media. Based on half a million Flickr pictures, 35,000 Instagram photos and 113,000 tweets, they mapped the locations where each particular smell had been mentioned.

[Brilliant Maps]
Each word was then mapped to a particular category (colour on the ‘smellwheel’), and plotted onto the streets in London. Not only has this resulted in beautiful colour coded street plans, but it also reveals the smelliest – and most polluted areas – of the capital. Take a deep breath in…and here we go.


This map highlights all the bits of the city that smell like animals. So, obviously, London Zoo is pretty prominent up there by Regent’s Park. There are also high levels around St James Park and the Horse Guards Parade.


Here we have emissions (traffic, not farts) mapped out across the city, from which we can see how polluted central London is. It was recorded that there were high reports of petrol and pollution smells to the east and south of Hyde Park, on Park Lane, along the Mall, on Sloane Street and in Knightsbridge.


London’s greenery means nature-related smells, such as trees, flowers, plants (rotting piles of old leaves…you know how it is). But seriously…LOOK AT HOW GREEN IT ACTUALLY IS! No wonder London is deemed one of the world’s greenest cities (in terms of vegetation not saving the environment unfortunately. Thank god for the cities’ fabulously foliage-filled parks, ey?

These maps can improve understanding of how smells affect people’s experiences of a city, and could even have practical effects such as aiding city designers to make planning decisions about traffic flow and tree planting. It aint’ all bad, is it? Yeh, we’re just as surprised as you are…


Featured Image Credit: Brilliant Maps

Tags: lifestyle, map
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