GEOG 261 – WEEK 2
The body, the city, and the everyday 9/11/2012 8:30:00 AM
Panoptic view tends to be a very 1 dimensional view of the city. The city
from within is very much alive and breathing, and to view it from an areal
view misses out on this.
Perceived, conceived and the lived. Think about this triad. The
interrelationship between the triad shows how complex and multidimensional
the city is.
“ What is the city but the people? True, the people are the city” –
The body is the people, human beings – the users of the city and the space.
The tendency is to see the city without the people. Imagine Vancouver
without any people – imagine the coffee shops.
Earlier approaches from the city is seeing the city from above – the planners
the architects, the engineers. See “the city” by celine melisser. This is a
contrast of an image of the city where the city is lived and shaped by human
The urban landscape is much more than its physical dimension.
The concept is not just landscape the way it’s presented in materialistic
forms of constructive material – it’s more than a physical space.
However, this focus was lost in earlier approaches to urban geography when
the focus was mainly on urban form and structure.
Rather than focus on the urban form and structure the focus is on what
structures them and creates the way how people use them. Thinking of the
urban landscape as multi layered and multi dimensional.
Robert Park, a pioneering member of the Chicago school, sought to rectify
this outlook, arguing that the city is not 1 dimensional:
“is something more than a congeries of individual ppl and of social
conveniences – streets, buildings, electric lights, tramways and telephones, etc; something more, also, than a mere constellation of hospitals, schools,
police, and civil functionaries of various sorts”
“The city, is rather, a state of mind, a body of customs and traditions. . . it
is a product of nature, and particularly of human nature”
Park, was ahead of his time in 1925 by thinking about the city beyond the
classical understanding of the city as merely a built place. He says the city is
a state of mind, as it starts as a conceptual project. Think about SFU, built in
60‟s, conceived by people, by many agents and actors that decided to build
SFU right here where we are. It now produces concrete affects.
Urban Geographer Steve Pile provides a very good interpretation of Parks
“Whatever it is that makes a city a city, it has much to do with their social
processes, their customs, and traditions. The city does not just express itself
in the buildings, the streets, the traffic that seems to define it, but in the
ways in which people live, work trade, their customs, habits, pleasures,
crimes, angers” –Pile (2005)
A lot of times we reduce the city to the material things. Think of the energy
that’s created by the way that people live. He sums up what parks trying to
say that we need to go beyond the physical nature.
Levebre has his three layers in 1976:
Perceived (physical): nature, cosmos, the built environment, concrete
materiality; can be directly sensed and engaged with practically through
Things you can see, so touching the table, the roads, the trees. They’re
physical. We need to keep the perceived in mind as we’re not just floating
without physical, keep the perceived to keep grounded Conceived (mental): the rational, logical, and abstract; space as it is
“intellectually worked out” (Lefebvre, 1991); this is the realm of scientists,
planners, technocrats and urbanists.
Lived (social space): the space of the inhabitants who use and live in space
directly. The end users – the ppl who buy houses, who rent houses, who use
the rains, use the pavements, trade on the streets, have a newsstand, goto
a coffee shop and read a book. The lived is shaped by the perceived and
Edward Soja – UC Berkley
Wrote a book called thirdspace – talks about
First space, second space and third space
He borrows and re invents levebvres ideas in 1996
Firstspace: The physical of spatial forms, things that we can grasp with our
Secondspace: cognitive or mental
Thirdspace: Goes beyond the physicality of space as well as its mental
dimension; suggests that it is possible to transcend both categories by
brining them together.
Notes on the everyday and the body
“It surrounds us, it besieges us, on all sides and from all directions. We are
inside it and outside it. No so-called „elevated‟ activity can be reduced to it,
nor can it be separated from it” - Levebvre We’re in the everyday, we’re a part of the every day. Egg and chicken
situation, which comes first? Why not think of it as not an either or situation
“In Lefebvre‟s hands, space becomes redescribed not as a dead inert thing
or object, but as organic and fluid and alive; it has a pulse, it palpitates, it
flows and it collides with other spaces. And these interpenetrations… get
superimposed upon one another to createa a present space”. Present space
means the everyday. –Andrew Merrifield.
The ppl in the city make it the present space, they shape the city.
Levebvre was influenced by surrealism and especially the situationist
movement of the 50‟s and 60‟s. This influence shaped his views on urban
space and the importance he placed on everyday life.
The notion of the everyday – le quotidient – as used by Lefebvre is closely
related to his concept of lived space.
He was very influenced by the idea of situationist. How to reclaim the city
through various tactical endeavors. Make the city a stage.
Everyday life for Lebvre represents the site of the most repetitious, banal,
and trivial of the domains of human activity in cities.
Think of routine, watching the cars go by in Burnaby and then at 11pm the
cars sort of stop. Think of walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus,
you know it’ll come because it’s repatative. Think of dtwn street performers
and panhandlers who shape the repatative nature, you’ll know where to find
them. These ar