Human Space is a study of space as we experience it, and how this experience is expressed in our culture and imagination. Showing a great sensitivity to the near and the everyday, it is a highly idiosyncratic but accessible phenomenology, often surprising and insightful, which draws in equal measure on anthropology, etymology, philosophy, poetry and fiction. Originally published in 1963, it is a seminal contribution to what is known today as the ‘spatial turn’ in late twentieth-century philosophy and the aesthetics and phenomenology of atmospheres. Of all Bollnow’s books, Human Space has had the most lasting impact outside philosophy. Now in its eleventh printing, the German original continues to attract a diverse readership and has generated considerable interest in the domain of environmental psychology, architecture and urban design. A document of its time, it remains relevant today and opens a window on a wide range of early thinking in this field, including many sources that are still little known in the English-speaking world.

Otto Friedrich Bollnow (1903–91) gained a doctorate in physics with Max Born before studying philosophy with Georg Misch, Herman Nohl and Martin Heidegger, finishing his ‘Habilitation’ at Göttingen in 1931. In the years that followed, he found it difficult to gain a permanent teaching position, achieving this only in 1938. During the war, Bollnow served in the German army. In 1946 he began to teach at the University of Mainz, and in 1953 started as a professor of philosophy and pedagogy at the University of Tübingen, where he stayed for the rest of his life. As a writer he was prolific: his bibliography runs to 38 books and about 300 articles, almost none of which have been translated into English. Bollnow’s work towards an anthropological pedagogy can be placed within and between the fields of existentialism and phenomenology.