Stone pp 221-253 | Cite as

Sensing Place: Living with Melbourne’s Stone

  • Tim EdensorEmail author


Drawing on ideas from non-representational, phenomenological and post-phenomenological thinking, this chapter examines how besides being saturated with contesting meanings and practices, places come to be known through often unreflexive sensory and affective experiences. The focus here is on how stone constitutes part of the material fabric that contributes to this sensory and affective apprehension of the city, and the chapter investigates how Melbourne offers a host of distinctive stony affordances that solicit particular practices and experiences. Particular attention is paid to how the tactile affordances of stone in the city cajole bodies into particular embodied performances that vary from functional to playful. In addition, the ways in which light reflects on stone to generate particular experiences of colour is shown to be especially distinctive with regard to Melbourne’s dark bluestone. These considerations foreground the non-representational apprehensions of routine practice and emphasise that though the affective and sensory experience of materiality is often difficult to access, it constitutes an integral role in shaping how people come to know, live and belong in a place.


  1. Anderson, B. (2009). Affective Atmospheres. Emotion, Space and Society, 2(2), 77–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin, B., & Vannini, P. (2020). Weather and Place. In T. Edensor, A. Kalindides, & U. Kothari (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Place. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Barry, K. (2019). More-Than-Human Entanglements of Walking on a Pedestrian Bridge. Geoforum, 106, 370–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batchelor, D. (2000). Chromophobia. London: Reaktion.Google Scholar
  5. Benjamin, W. (1989). Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia. In S. Bronner & D. Kellner (Eds.), Critical Theory and Society: A Reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bennett, J. (2001). The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings and Ethics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beveridge, P. (2000). Color Perception and the Art of James Turrell. Leonardo, 33(4), 305–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boeri, C. (2017). Color Loci Placemaking: The Urban Color Between Needs of Continuity and Renewal. Color Research & Application, 42(5), 641–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Böhme, G. (2014). Urban Atmospheres. In C. Borch (Ed.), Architectural Atmospheres (pp. 42–59). Basil: Birkhäuser.Google Scholar
  10. Buchli, V. (2006). Architecture and Modernism. In C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Küchler, M. Rowlands, & P. Spyer (Eds.), Handbook of Material Culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Carter, P. (1996). The Lie of the Land. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  12. Crouch, D. (1999). Introduction: Encounters in Leisure/Tourism. In D. Crouch (Ed.), Leisure/Tourism Geographies: Practices and Geographical Knowledge. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Degen, M., DeSilvey, C., & Rose, G. (2008). Experiencing Visualities in Designed Urban Environments: Learning from Milton Keynes. Environment and Planning A, 40(8), 1901–1920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dekyser, T. (2017). The Gaps of Architectural Life: The Affective Politics of Gordon Matta-Clark’s Conical Intersect. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42(2), 179–191.Google Scholar
  15. DeLanda, M. (2011). A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  16. Doulos, L., Santamouris, M., & Livada, I. (2004). Passive Cooling of Outdoor Urban Spaces: The Role of Materials. Solar Energy, 77(2), 231–249.Google Scholar
  17. Ebbensgaard, C. (2017). ‘I Like the Sound of Falling Water, It’s Calming’: Engineering Sensory Experiences Through Landscape Architecture. Cultural Geographies, 24(3), 441–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Edensor, T., & Hughes, R. (2020). Moving Through a Dappled World: The Aesthetics of Shade and Shadow in Central Melbourne. Social and Cultural Geography. Scholar
  19. Harper, G., & Weaver, C. (2019). Concrete Map of Melbourne. London: Blue Crow Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Hockey, J., & Allen-Collinson, J. (2009). The Sensorium at Work: The Sensory Phenomenology of the Working Body. The Sociological Review, 57(2), 217–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ingold, T. (1993). The Temporality of the Landscape. World Archaeology, 25(2), 152–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ingold, T. (2010). Footprints through the Weather World: Walking, Breathing, Knowing. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16, S121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ingold, T. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ingold, T., & Kurttila, T. (2000). Perceiving the Environment in Finnish Lapland. Body and Society, 6(3–4), 183–196.Google Scholar
  25. Kraftl, P., & Adey, P. (2008). Architecture/Affect/Inhabitation: Geographies of Being-In Buildings. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98(1), 213–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Law, J. (2004). After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Lenclos, J., & Lenclos, D. (2004). Colors of the World: The Geography of Color. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  29. Lippard, L. (1997). The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  30. McHugh, K., & Kitson, J. (2018). Thermal Sensations—Burning the Flesh of the World. GeoHumanities, 4(1), 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Madzak, M. (2018). Weaving Through Weather on a Danish Caravan Site. Space and Culture. Scholar
  32. Mason, J. (2018). Affinities: Potent Connections in Personal Life. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  33. Noxolo, P. (2018). Flat Out! Dancing the City at a Time of Austerity. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(5), 797–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Obrador-Pons, P. (2007). A Haptic Geography of the Beach: Naked Bodies, Vision and Touch. Social and Cultural Geography, 8(1), 123–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pallasmaa, J. (2016). The Sixth Sense: The Meaning of Atmosphere and Mood. Architectural Design, 86(6), 126–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Paterson, M. (2009). Haptic Geographies: Ethnography, Haptic Knowledges and Sensuous Dispositions. Progress in Human Geography, 33(6), 766–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paterson, M., Dodge, M., & MacKian, S. (2016). Introduction: Placing Touch Within Social Theory and Empirical Study. In M. Paterson & M. Dodge (Eds.), Touching Space, Placing Touch. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Peacock, H. (2017). Geographies of Colour: Practices and Performances of Repair (Doctoral dissertation). Queen Mary University of London.Google Scholar
  39. Pink, S. (2009). Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rancière, J. (2009). Aesthetics and Its Discontents. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  41. Rickards, L. (2019). Making Climates Through the City. In J. van der Heijden, H. Bulkeley, & C. Certomà (Eds.), Urban Climate Politics: Agency and Empowerment (pp. 80–97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Seamon, D. (1979). A Geography of the Lifeworld. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  43. Serres, M. (2008). The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  44. Solnit, R. (2000). Wanderlust: A History of Walking. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  45. Springgay, S., & Truman, S. (2017). Stone Walks: Inhuman Animacies and Queer Archives of Feeling. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 38(6), 851–863.Google Scholar
  46. Stevens, Q. (2007). The Ludic City: Exploring the Potential of Public Spaces. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sumartojo, S., & Graves, M. (2018). Rust and Dust: Materiality and the Feel of Memory at Camp des Milles. Journal of Material Culture, 23(3), 328–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thrift, N. (1996). Spatial Formations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  49. Tilly, C. (2004). The Materiality of Stone: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  50. Trigg, S. (2018). Bluestone and the City: Writing an Emotional History. Melbourne Historical Journal, 44(1), 41–52.Google Scholar
  51. Tuan, Y. F. (1975). Place: An Experiential Perspective. Geographical Review, 65(2), 151–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vasiljević-Tomić, D., & Marić, I. (2011). Colour in the City: Principles of Nature-Climate Characteristics. Facta Universitatis-Series: Architecture and Civil Engineering, 9(2), 315–323.Google Scholar
  53. Woodyer, T. (2012). Ludic Geographies: Not Merely Child’s Play. Geography Compass, 6(6), 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wylie, J. (2005). A Single Day’s Walking: Narrating Self and Landscape on the South West Coast Path. Transactions of the institute of British Geographers, 30(2), 234–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wylie, J. (2007). Landscape. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Young, D. (2006). The Colours of Things. In P. Spyer, C. Tilley, S. Kuechler, & W. Keane (Eds.), The Handbook of Material Culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Place ManagementManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations