Placemaking 101

This list is not exhaustive. And while it certainly addresses the problem space of what is place once we move into (or in and out of) cyberspace, it's not even a full-fledged thematic list, and it's decidedly idiosyncratic: some of the books here are milestones in the field, some others just explore interesting intersections. Others have pretty pictures1. Some books I took out, as they really belong to more specific lists on new media, or game design (we are talking information spaces, aren't we?), cross-media narratives, and cross-channel (few precious resources out there, one being Pervasive Information Architecture).

And the books wander around a lot. You will find titles dealing with place-making in architecture, geography, map-making, narrative, software, the media, cultural anthropology, philosophy, information space.

While certainly incomplete, the list is inclusive, so you will find titles most people working in IA and UX have at least heard of, such as Mitchell's City of Bits, side by side with obscure tomes that I think deserve a little more attention, such as for example Wertheim's The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. Kevin Lynch's seminal The Idea of the City is here, as is Otto Bollnow's Human Space (Mensch und Raum), finally translated into English and a must-read if you want to understand the very idea of anthropological space2 and where the connection between architecture and information architecture lies.

You won't find any notes or comments, unfortunately. Honestly, that would have been too much work and the list would have never seen the light of day. But I read them all, for professional reasons, and I did take notes. If you have questions about a specific book or books, leave a comment. I promise I'll do my best to answer.

The list is in alphabetic order by author, and all entries link back to either their Amazon or Google Books pages. Hope you'll find it useful: enjoy.


Adams, P. C. (2009). Geographies of Media and Communication. Wiley-Blackwell.

Augé, M. (2009). Non Places: An Introduction to Super-modernity. Verso. 2nd ed.

Bachelard, G. (1964). The Poetics of Space. Orion Press.

Bollnow, O. (2011). Human Space. Hyphen Press. 1st English ed.

Cresswell, T. (2004). Space: A Short Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.

Cresswell, T. & Merriman, P. (Eds) (2011). Geographies of Mobility: Practices, Spaces, Subjects. Ashgate.

De Blij, H. (2006). The Power of Place. Oxford University Press.

Dourish, P. (2004). Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. The MIT Press.

Falkheimer, J. & Jansson A. (Eds) (2006). Geographies of Communication: The Spatial Turn in Media Studies. Nordicom.

Farman, J. (2011). Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media. Routledge. (Suggested by Thomas Wendt).

Harmon, K. (2003). You Are Here: Personal Geographies and other Maps of the Imagination. Princeton Architectural Press.

Howard, J. (2008). Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narrative. AK Peters.

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M. (2011). Code/Space. The MIT Press.

Lawson, B. (2001). The Language of Space. Architectural Press.

Lefebvre, H. (1992). The Production of Space. Wiley-Blackwell.

Hall. E. (1976). Beyond Culture. Anchor.

Hall, E. (1990). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor.

Lima, M. (2011). Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information. Princeton Architectural Press.

Ling, R. & Campbell, S. W. (2009). The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices. Transaction Publishers.

Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of the City. The MIT Press.

Meyrowitz, J. (1985). No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. Oxford University Press.

McCullough, M. (2005). Digital Ground: Architecture, Pervasive Computing, and Environmental Knowing. The MIT Press.

Mitchell, W. J. (1995). City of Bits: Space, Place, and the InfoBahn. The MIT Press. 2nd ed.

Mitchell, W. J. (2005). Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City. The MIT Press.

Mumford, L. (1968). The City in History. Mariner Books.

Norberg-Schulz, C. (1971). Existence, Space & Architecture. Praeger Publishers.

Norberg-Schulz, C. (1991). Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. Rizzoli.

Tuan, Y. (1977). Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. University of Minnesota Press.

Tuan, Y. (1990). Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values. Columbia University Press.

Turchi, P. (2004). Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer. Trinity University Press.

Wertheim, M. (2000). The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. W. W. Norton & Company.

  • 1. Just joking. Most have no pictures at all.
  • 2. Unless you want the shorthand me and Luca Rosati provided in Chapter 4 of Pervasive Information Architecture
My Dad's portable Underwood
A while ago I promised a brief list of resources on space, place and place-making to friends and students. It took a while, I concede, but here it is. I decided to start with books first, and leave interesting articles and papers for another round.

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