Investigations of Place Attachment in Public Space

Maria Eggertsen Teder


Place attachment – an affective bond between people and specific places – makes people want to stay close to and care for certain environments. Originating in environmental psychology, the concept also appears relevant for architecture and urban design, although to date it is not commonplace within the literature in those fields. Psychologists Scannell and Gifford (2010) sketch a tripartite, theoretical model with people, place and psychological process as the main components of place attachment. A number of scholars have since suggested that the place component needs further investigation. This paper explores relevant theoretical concepts to be used as analytical tools in such an investigation. Various definitions of placemaking and place attachment and Relph’s (1976) categories of place outsideness and insideness are discussed. Distinguishing material features and the creation process for a public space improvement programme in San Francisco (Pavement to Parks) are then explored in a qualitative case study. Analysis of the empirical material revealed the presence of place attachment in different phases of the placemaking process and how place attachment is related to the materiality and use of the resulting places.

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