The Heaven, the Earth and the Optic Array: Norberg Schulz’s Place Phenomenology and its Degree of Operationability

  • Akkelies van Nes


This contribution aims to present the core of Christian Norberg-Schultz' later work about place phenomenology and architectural existentialism, its strengths and weaknesses and challenges for improvement. Christian Norberg-Schultz's book Intentions in Architecture is probably his most internationally known publication. One of his books, unfortunately only published in Norwegian, with the title Mellom himmel og jord ('between heaven and earth'), presents a continuation of Intentions in Architecture. It gives a presentation of Norberg-Schultz' architectural existentialism and his theory on places. It is build further up on Heidegger's text 'Bauen Wohnen Denken'. This book presents the frame and core of Norberg-Schultz's work from his last 30 years. In order to reflect upon the degree of operationability of his place theory, examples from Dutch and the Norwegian built environments will be used throughout the article.

Author Biography

Akkelies van Nes

Akkelies van Nes researches and teaches for the International Master Course at the Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU-Delft in The Netherlands. In 2002 van Nes received her PhD at the Department of Land Use and Landscape Architecture at the Agricultural University of Norway. She graduated at The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London in 2000 and at Oslo School of Architecture in 1993. She was a student of Christian Norberg-Schulz from 1986 to 1993. She worked for 5 as a planner in Drammen and Asker municipalities and at the Public Road Administration in Akershus province.

How to Cite
VAN NES, Akkelies. The Heaven, the Earth and the Optic Array: Norberg Schulz’s Place Phenomenology and its Degree of Operationability. FOOTPRINT, [S.l.], p. 113-134, june 2008. ISSN 1875-1490. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 12 july 2020. doi: