IDEA | Place-becoming

Posted on 08/09/2010

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Yesterday I received an email from a colleague which included the term ‘place becoming’. Never having heard this term before, it sparked my curiosity and I scouted around to ascertain its currency in thinking about place. The expression ‘place-becoming’ is used in Placemaking: the art and practice of building communities by Lynda H. Schneekloth and Robert G. Shibley.

Given that my previous post was about ‘becoming urban’ (which consequently raised a question about urban becoming) this new expression is like an interjection that presents a potentially alternate trajectory for Placing and the types of ruptures or shifts I am endeavouring to consider in this space of Placing. Becoming place/Place becoming. Writing Place/Place Writing. The references to place-becoming Schneekloth and Shibley do not define this term beyond suggesting ideas about action/actor and agency to convey a particularly level of intensity. What is compelling about place-becoming is that place is not readily given or assumed. Like placemaking, place-becoming is processual and negotiated. For Schneekloth and Shibley that negotiation happens, arrives or is done by orientation in a dialogic space or a meeting space (thus folding back into the notion of synoikismos that flows through this project). There are also perhaps some allusions to Norberg-Schulz’s engagement with the idea of ‘genius loci’ and Heidegger’s writings about ‘dwelling’ (oikos).

My exploration of place-making or city-making thus far has been driven by an engagement with the idea of poiesis, the ancient Greek meaning “to make” whereby, as Wikipedia explains, poietic work reconciles thought with matter and time, and humans with the world. In both place making and place becoming, place is brought forth through relationships with the world and others (also Heidegger). A threshold moment that involves becoming other. However, I will need to explore the implications of this difference between making and becoming …

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