Creating ambiances, co-constructing place: a poetic transect across the city

Phil Jones, Chris Jam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
272 Downloads (Pure)


Debates in cultural geography around ideas of atmospheres have been considerably enriched in recent years by engagement with the literature on ambiances particularly associated with the Centre de recherche sur l'espace sonore et l'environnement urbain (CRESSON). Those working on both atmospheres and ambiances are concerned, among other things, with how places feel. In the ambiances literature, however, there is much greater emphasis on undertaking active interventions with the intention of re-engineering the feeling of urban spaces. This paper reflects on a collaborative intervention undertaken by a cultural geographer and a professional poet. Methodologically we report on a novel extension to the idea of the urban transect (Melemis & Tixier, 2010). Rather than simply recording the feeling of urban places for later analysis, we develop the use of an arts-based intervention to actively manipulate urban ambiances in the field. We thus respond to Augoyard’s (2007) notion that artists alter ambiances through their creative practice, but we do so in a more democratic manner, asking non-artists to engage with poetry as a means of remaking the immediate feeling of places. The analysis of this exercise presented here is comprised of both conventional academic and poetic writing. We conclude that the ambiances literature provides a powerful rationale for engaging in more activist collaborations between artists and scholars seeking to improve the feeling of places in partnership with residents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317–324
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2016


  • ambiance
  • atmospheres
  • poetry
  • arts-based methods
  • Cardiff


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