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An essay on the concave city corner is a study of photographs of concave corners in urban environments all over the world. The concept is meant as an exploration of how spaces become places. When does a space become a place? In social geography, space is considered an abstract form, its meaning still undefined, while place has more identity, has been experienced. Place therefore always starts out as space. An assortment of streets and buildings in a city becomes a familiar neighbourhood to people that get to know its street corners and landmarks. Places can keep evolving through the changing perception and image that people develop with increasing knowledge and familiarity. So is it in the perception by people that spaces become places? Can photography be used to visualize the changing perception of a space into a place or even to transform spaces into places, by influencing our perception? How much can photography contribute to or capture the placeness of cities or some of its spatial elements, like street corners?

With these questions in mind photographs of concave city corners were analysed. The photographs were made in cities or urban areas with no geographical restriction, between 2010 and 2017. The concave city corners are an example of typical spaces in the city and resemble the cartesian representation of a physical space. Every corner photographed consists of different materials and objects. The presence of these objects and materials were mapped and the main colours were determined using the RAL colour system. A grid system was used to define the spatial character of the corners and position of doors and windows.

Results are summarized as a code for each photograph, and in the form of graphs and charts for all the photographs. For instance, a radial tree map is made of all photographs, each represented by its five most occurring RAL colours. The spatial character of corners and location of all found windows and doors are combined in three separate graphs.

By analysing all collected data an ‘average’ or most common corner emerged, defined by the code, p13NI34J3c0709m02030706w#1d#2lo01#104ro03#105#1xo0103#1. The study may be considered as a first step to finding an ideal concave city corner. It was realised that instead of just analysing corners, an analysis of the photographers' perception of space as a place was executed. However, instead of an objective analysis of the corners, the study mainly offers insight into the photographers’ own perception of what an ideal corner, as a place in a city, may look like. A larger variety of human perceptions of these corners would be needed to define an ideal corner as a place in a city. A next step in this study could therefore be to collect people’s photographs, impressions and opinions of concave city corners and open up the discussion.

The study has been collected in the book ‘an essay on the concave city corner’. It has been shortlisted at:

The book will be published by Photobook Week Aarhus in collaboration with Kvadrat and the Reflektor platform. It will distributed by Idea Books and through here too, of course. If all goes well the book will be published the second quarter of 2019. If you are interested, you can subscribe to the newsletter.

all photographs, data, text & graphics are © stijn van der linden, 2018; text by katrien vanherck.