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Space and Place - A-Level Changing Places

Tony Hardman

18th September 2023

Having met my Year 12s for the first time last week we launched ourselves into the Changing Places unit of the specification. We have learned that a space is a place without meaning, whereas a place is a location that has meaning to an individual.

Let's take the example of a house that is up for sale. To the seller it is a place, a result of memories and lived experience - and has huge emotional attachment. To the prospective buyer it is a space… they might have only seen the listing in the estate agents window or on the internet. If that person buys the house it begins to become a place to them, but it will be a different place, as walls will be painted, furniture placed in situ and kitchens and bathrooms renovated as the new owner puts their mark on the space to make it their place. It will be a different place to the one that the seller sold, even though it is still the same space as the meaning of the place will not be pertinent to them.

But what if your place was to become a space again because of elements outside your control?

By Saturday 10 September, Storm Daniel, which has caused flooding in Greece had reached north-eastern Libya, with winds of 70-80mph, according to Libya’s National Meteorological Centre. Devastation then came in the form of extreme rainfall, as 24-hour totals of 150mm-240mm were widely recorded in the region. One station in the city of Al-Bayda recorded a rainfall total of 414.1mm in 24 hours, a new record for the area.

These torrential rains caused two dams to collapse, which resulted in devastating flash flooding that has killed thousands of people. Devastating is the word. In the video clip attached BBC correspondent describes the scene in the Libyan port of Derna where whole neighbourhoods were literally washed away. The place has gone, but the space remains.

Of course, as time moves on and rebuilding happens it will become a place to the people of Derna again. But a different place to that of Friday 9th September 2023…a different place in the same space.

Tony Hardman

Tony Hardman is an experienced teacher and examiner of 20 years. He is Manchester (well Oldham) born and bred and is passionate about urban geography!

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