chapter  23
18 Pages

Spaces with a temper: on atmospheres of education

ByChristoph Michels, Timon Beyes

Everything depends on the angle of arrival . We begin with a small empirical study undertaken by one of our students. It took place at a business university, in a course called “Cities and Creativity.” The course was dedicated to and constructed around short, quasi-ethnographic studies that the students conducted on the everyday constitution of urban spaces, the way such spaces afford certain kinds of emotions, perceptions, and practices and the way they are shaped by these emotions, perceptions, and practices in return. Our student took on the university campus itself. Among other things, his study assembled narratives of the campus’s atmospheric force based on interviews with and cognitive mappings by a local architect, a researcher, a janitor, a student, and an inhabitant of the city. In their accounts and maps, we found a variety of ways of affectively relating to the campus and its buildings. We learned that the architect was “thrilled” and “fascinated” by the style of the building, that the researcher experienced the campus as “dull” and “boring,” that the janitor found the campus a “tense” and “strange” place, that the student “detested” the campus’s “unwelcoming atmosphere,” and finally that to the inhabitant of the city the university felt “far away” and “a big mystery.”