Marking a Place: the Role of Void Spaces in the Mental Boundaries of a City (on the Example of the Smolenka River Mouth)
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Urban Space
Urban Voids
Cultural Memory
Smolenka Mouth
Urban Structure
St. Petersburg Myth

How to Cite

1. Troitskaya A. Marking a Place: the Role of Void Spaces in the Mental Boundaries of a City (on the Example of the Smolenka River Mouth) // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2020. № 4 (5). C. 344-381.


How do urban voids affect the formation of urban identities? Holes and voids in the urban landscape are not just a result of geographical dimensions. They intrude into the contours of the city pattern or exist as its basis and organize the place around. Mental mapping allows us to draw invisible borders of urban areas that acquire independent significance because of these gaps. The aesthetics of urban lost spaces have their own background, especially when it comes to the cultural memory intrinsic to this landscape. However, has meaningful mnemonic experience take a place for within these mental boundaries always? Can we talk about the Petersburger’s regional identity in connection with neogenic territories?

The paper uncovers the locus with zero level of cultural memory — the current entry of the Smolenka River the waters of the Gulf of Finland in the Northwestern part of Vasilievsky Island. The Smolenka River mouth and the area around it are considered as one of the St. Petersburg “non-places” (in Marc Augé’s terminology), i. e. places deprived of personal history and not defined through identity and cultural relations. The draft of a nonexistent park and the channels surrounded by wastelands are not only a physical gap in city blocks, but also the embodiment of emptiness as a clean slate of cultural memory. At the same time, the Smolenka mouth is one of such territories that are quickly filled with related cultural meanings and stylistic allusions, which leads to the emergence of a new symbolic landscape.
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