1st Edition

Life Takes Place Phenomenology, Lifeworlds, and Place Making

By David Seamon Copyright 2018
    230 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Life Takes Place argues that, even in our mobile, hypermodern world, human life is impossible without place. Seamon asks the question: why does life take place? He draws on examples of specific places and place experiences to understand place more broadly. Advocating for a holistic way of understanding that he calls "synergistic relationality," Seamon defines places as spatial fields that gather, activate, sustain, identify, and interconnect things, human beings, experiences, meanings, and events.

    Throughout his phenomenological explication, Seamon recognizes that places are multivalent in their constitution and sophisticated in their dynamics. Drawing on British philosopher J. G. Bennett’s method of progressive approximation, he considers place and place experience in terms of their holistic, dialectical, and processual dimensions. Recognizing that places always change over time, Seamon examines their processual dimension by identifying six generative processes that he labels interaction, identity, release, realization, intensification, and creation.

    Drawing on practical examples from architecture, planning, and urban design, he argues that an understanding of these six place processes might contribute to a more rigorous place making that produces robust places and propels vibrant environmental experiences. This book is a significant contribution to the growing research literature in "place and place making studies."


    List of Tables and Figures


    Chapter 1. Life Takes Place: An Introduction

    Chapter 2. Preliminaries for a Phenomenology of Place: Principles, Concepts, and Method

    Chapter 3. Understanding Place Holistically: Analytic vs. Synergistic Relationality

    Chapter 4. Explicating Wholeness: Belonging, Progressive Approximation, and Systematics

    Chapter 5. The Monad of Place

    Chapter 6. The Dyad of Place

    Chapter 7. Understanding the Triad: Relationships, Resolutions, and Processes

    Chapter 8. Three Place Impulses and Six Place Triads

    Chapter 9. The Triad of Place Interaction

    Chapter 10. The Triad of Place Identity

    Chapter 11. The Triad of Place Release

    Chapter 12. The Triad of Place Realization

    Chapter 13. The Triad of Place Intensification

    Chapter 14. The Triad of Place Creation

    Chapter 15. Integrating the Six Place Processes

    Chapter 16. Life Takes Place: Criticisms, Concerns, and the Future of Places




    David Seamon is a Professor of Architecture at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, USA. Trained in geography and environment-behavior research, he is interested in a phenomenological approach to place, architecture, and environmental design as place making. His books include A Geography of the Lifeworld (Routledge Revivals Series, 2015). He is on the editorial boards of Environmental Philosophy; Phenomenology & Practice; Journal of Environmental Psychology; and Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. He edits Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology, which in 2014 celebrated twenty-five years of publication.

    Seamon’s incorporation of J. G. Bennett’s progressive approximation into a phenomenology of place provides a provocative framework for a more comprehensive approach to complex aspects of place. Seamon deftly argues for the need to focus our attention on the relationality between parts and wholes brought to light through a combination of these two diverse philosophies. The work is an important contribution to place studies furthering our understanding of the significance of place in our lives while encouraging us to see place anew. 

    Janet Donohoe, University of West Georgia

    David Seamon – place theorist par excellence – presents us with a rich, in-depth, insightful exploration into the complex dimensions of the experience of place as "synergistic relationality." If you read only one book on the phenomenology of place, let this be the one.

    Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, Dean, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University

    David Seamon’s Life Takes Place respects and celebrates the complexity of place experience, while providing a sophisticated conceptual framework as well as pragmatic tools for ‘reading’ places. It flows out of the tradition of synergistic, holistic, qualitative models for approaching place, and appreciates the wholeness of place -- while also suggesting ways to conceptualize difference, relationality, and change processes in synergistic place studies. Life Takes Place gives architects, geographers, urban planners, psychologists, and ecologist pragmatic tools for understanding places as lived engagements and processes whereby human beings both shape and are shaped by the world of places in which they find themselves. In his unique interdisciplinary style Seamon has given us an engaging, thought-provoking, practical, and inspiring book that will speak to readers from many disciplines.

    Eva-Maria Simms, Ph.D., Adrian van Kaam Professor, Psychology Department, Duquesne University

    Seamon’s years of substantial engagement with phenomenology of place bear fruit in this books’s clear presentation of difficult theory. Additionally, his numerically based pedagogy of relationality and deft use of telling cases bring to manageable order the bewildering variety of place qualities and processes, as well as the meanings of the diverse experiences they engender.

    Robert Mugerauer, Professor and Dean Emeritus, College of Built Environments, University of Washington

    Seamon's book is an important addition to the libraries of people who are versed in space syntax and who, more importantly, care deeply about how places are shaped and lived in.

    John Hill, A Daily Dose of Architecture Books