'Psychogeography' and Why It Matters for Planners

An unfamiliar title for a familiar collection of concepts, psychogeography examines the good and bad effects of environments on the thoughts and feelings of people.
December 31, 2015, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Ryan Holleywell interviews Colin Ellard, author of Places of the Heart: the Psychogeography of Everyday Life, about "the ways psychology, architecture, and urban design intersect."

The interview begins with the critical matter of defining the term psychogeography. Ellard explains: "The origins of the term were in a French philosophical movement some time ago. It was their intent to make people aware of the extent to which our surroundings, especially in cities, condition the things we do and think – and not necessarily in benevolent ways."

Thus psychogeography would certainly be a concern of planners and urban designers of various stripes. As an example of the possible meaning to be drawn from examining places though the lens of psychogeography, Ellard references a story he recently wrote describing how boring cityscapes increase depression, addiction, and disease-related stress.

Ellard's main message for planners and architects: "we have to make considerations for the psychological well being of urban residents." Those considerations, however, have taken a back seat until recently. Such considerations, argues Ellard, are just as important as transportation and other forms of infrastructure.

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Published on Monday, December 28, 2015 in The Urban Edge
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