Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 14, 2014

Place, Environment, Atmosphere

Abraham Akkerman
Pages 161-189

Towards a Phenomenology of the Winter-City: Urbanization and Mind through the Little Ice Age and Its Sequels

Almost simultaneous emergence of Existentialism and Marxism at end of the Little Ice Age had coincided with rapid urbanization and prevalence of mood disorder in northern Europe. This historic configuration is cast against Relph’s notion of place in his critique of urban planning. During the LIA street walking had mitigated mood disorder triggered by sunlight deprivation of indoor spaces while, at the same time, it had also buoyed a place. It was the unplanned place in the open air—a dilapidated street corner in St. Petersburg or Romanesque streetscape of Old Copenhagen—that offered authenticity, cerebral restitution, and for ardent minds also discernment and acumen. Relph’s critique continues to be of pressing relevance to winter-cities designed for automotive access, and also for the interpretation it offers on the thought and events of the late LIA and following it.