“In short, space is a practiced place. Thus the street geometrically defined by urban planning is transformed into space by walkers.” ——Michel De Certeau

Space is more than shapes on plans or sections. It is analyzing and constructing the surroundings. It is “walking into your life.” This reminds me of the Space Species by Georges Perec. He talked about how to observe a street. From slowing down your pace and writing down all the details of the street to imagining and recalling memories of the street. Maybe this is why space is practiced. Several days before I set off for Hong Kong, I had an observation for my home street, and I wrote: “I have looked up to the building where I live in for thousands times. Those balconies reflect warm yellow in the dusk below the sunset glow. But I have never stopped and stared at those buildings, to my own neighborhood in such calm and earnest way. I stand further to look straightly towards the frontage of the buildings, watching every detail of them. People are passing me; dogs are walking around a road lamp; students are waiting for the green light. Only me, I’m a wanderer. I feel that the building is staring at me.” It’s a kind of sadness that I find the street has its emotion and character, sometimes kind and sometimes suspicious, such late. Several days after I said goodbye to this speechless family member. Space seems to be emotional, but it may just act as a self-reflection. In Chungking Express, four protagonists appeared on the same sky bridge on different nights. The color of the lights is different, making the same space act as a reflection of the character’s moods.

So, planning space is like writing an article, but walking into space is like reading an article. A good planner may think not only through the “writing” way but also the “reading” way.

Mao Yue Yang 3035770549


  1. Putri Santoso says:

    Great reflection on how you experience and record a memory of a street! Rather than “emotional”, I would argue that space is a personal experience instead. Because it is practised, it is very much subject to our own sensory and perception. This is why space might have a different meaning to different people. You mentioned Chungking Express towards the end of your essay. I think it would be a good addition to reflect on the different perception (or practises!) each character has upon the escalator. Then you can also elaborate a little bit on how do you mean by planners think through “reading” vs “writing” space.


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