The changing feel of place: an analysis of temporal atmospheres in Smithfield Market, London

Monica Degen, Camilla Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within the context of recent debates around urban atmospheres, this article examines the situatedness and partiality of urban experiences. Drawing on an ethnographic study of the Smithfield Market area, a neighbourhood undergoing a period of rapid urban regeneration as part of the ‘Culture Mile’ in the City of London, we explore how different individuals experience the changing feel of place. By focusing on the felt body, the article analyses the ways in which individuals with different attachments to the neighbourhood respond to the impending urban change and draw on selective temporal modalities of atmospheres in order to make specific claims to place. In particular, we identify three temporal modalities of atmospheres: the selective feel of the past, the contentious present feel and the ambivalent future feel. The article thus argues that studies of urban atmospheres need to pay more attention to the manifold bodily capacities, personal and social histories which mediate and position in diverse ways how places are experienced. More generally, this article makes an intervention into debates on urban atmospheres by analysing empirically how the variable interactions between sensory and temporal qualities produce diverse atmospheric constellations for different individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-526
Number of pages18
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2019


  • atmospheres
  • Culture Mile
  • feel of place
  • felt body
  • senses
  • Smithfield Market
  • temporality
  • urban regeneration


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