Place and Placelessness Revisited: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Place and Placelessness Revisited

1st Edition

Edited by Robert Freestone, Edgar Liu


278 pages

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Since its publication in 1976, Ted Relph’s Place and Placelessness has been an influential text in thinking about cities and city life across disciplines, including human geography, sociology, architecture, planning, and urban design. For four decades, ideas put forward by this seminal work have continued to spark debates, from the concept of placelessness itself through how it plays out in our societies to how city designers might respond to its challenge in practice.

Drawing on evidence from Australian, British, Japanese, and North and South American urban settings, Place and Placelessness Revisited is a collection of cutting edge empirical research and theoretical discussions of contemporary applications and interpretations of place and placelessness. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach, including contributions from across the breadth of disciplines in the built environment – architecture, environmental psychology, geography, landscape architecture, planning, sociology, and urban design – in critically re-visiting placelessness in theory and its relevance for twenty-first century contexts.


Ted Relph’s notion of placelessness opened up many new possibilities of how we understand the slippery notion of place. Many of them are realized in this multidisciplinary collection. With case studies that range from graffiti to malls and airports and with examples from Detroit to Melbourne and Seoul, it is a welcome contribution that explores how the social constructions of space create different places.John Rennie Short is the author of Human Geography: A Short Introduction.

Relph's "Place and Placelessness" Is the one seminal work that gave rise to a whole literature on the subject of place. It's about time that we look back to our original source of inspiration.

Yi-Fu Tuan, University of Wisconsin-Madison

As claims to 'place-making' proliferate in these neo-liberal times, the wide-ranging essays in this 40th anniversary homage to Place and Placelessness update both theory and practice in a global context.Professor John Punter, Cardiff University

Awarded a commendation in the 'Cutting Edge Research and Teaching' category of the 2016 Awards for Planning Excellence from the Planning Institue of Australia (NSW Chapter).

Table of Contents

Foreword –Tim Cresswell

Revisiting Place and Placelessness –Edgar Liu and Robert Freestone

1. The Paradox of Place and the Evolution of Placelessness –Ted Relph

Part 1. Place/lessness in Design

2. An Urban Designer’s Perspective: Paradigms, Places and People –Jon Lang

3. Theory’s Role in Placelessness –Lucy Montague

4. Reclaiming and Making and Places of Distinction through Landscape Architecture –Linda Corkery

5. Regulating Place Distinctiveness: A Critique of Approaches to the Protection of ‘Neighborhood Character’ in Melbourne –Gethin Davison

Part 2. Place/lessness in Experience

6. Insideness in an Age of Mobilities –John Tomaney

7. Losing Control at Home? –Hazel Easthope

8. Tuning In and Out of Place –Rachel Cogger

9. The Risk of Placelessness for Children and Young People in the 21st Century Cities of Western Societies –Kate Bishop

Part 3. Place/lessmess in Practice

10. Examining Place-making in Practice: Observations from the Revitalization of Downtown Detroit –Laura Crommelin

11. Place-making in the Rise of the Airport City –Robert Freestone and Ilan Wiesel

12. Urban Squares: A Place for Social Life –Nancy Marshall

13. Placelessness and the Rigid Perception of Place Identities: Public Toilets as Multi-functional Places –Edgar Liu

Part 4. Place/lessness in Question

14. Extraordinary Ordinaryness: An Outsider’s Perspective on Place and Placelessness in the Japanese City –Matthew Carmona

15. Extending Place: The Global South and Informal Urbanisms –Aseem Inam

16. Place as Multiplicity –Kim Dovey

Afterword –Ted Relph

About the Editors

Robert Freestone is Professor of Planning in the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW Australia. He joined UNSW in 1991 after six years with Design Collaborative, a Sydney planning, research, and heritage consultancy. He has also held appointments at the University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, and the Australian National University. His books include The Planning Imagination (co-editor, 2014), Urban Nation (2012), and Designing Australian Cities (2004).

Edgar Liu is a Research Fellow at City Futures Research Centre in the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW Australia. He has academic backgrounds in economic and cultural geography, and his research interests include social aspects of public estate renewals, housing as social welfare, and the conceptualization of human identities.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design

The Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design series provides the reader with the latest scholarship in the field of planning and beyond. The series publishes international research covering spatial planning, regional planning, planning history, planning theory, communities, impact assessment, transport, sustainability and urban design. Building on Routledge’s history of academic rigor and cutting edge research, the series will contribute to the rapidly expanding literature in all areas of planning and urban design. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning