The concept of place, defined as space endowed with the value of experiential perspective, helps to explain the uncanny relationship we have with our landscape. To go out and experience one’s surroundings is critical for transforming the abstract into the discrete. This begs the question, with whom does the power of placemaking reside? The architect or urban designer can facilitate desired uses, and the best do this splendidly, but to claim placemaking as a billable deliverable is not only arrogant, but rather ignorant for superseding  the pivotal role of the user. To bat away the lingering fog of trite jargon and address the issue of placemaking with modest honesty might simply require a passing of the torch. Lost in Place hopes to bring placemaking to everyday life and consequently foster a greater appreciation of underutilized and undervalued public spaces. Sidewalks, alleys, medians, vacant lots, drainage ditches — the vague spaces that are truly found between most buildings. Places are all around us and it is up to us to make them. It is not a prescribed spatial distinction, bestowed upon a space by those with the power of placemaking. It is simply a way of thinking about our environment and perceiving one’s experiences within it. Lost in Place provides resources, activities, and technologies to encourage placemaking as a part of everyday life. The beauty is in the streets, especially the ugly ones, you just have know how to look for it. Go on now, and get lost!

lost in place turning public space into public place
This Must Be the Place!

This Must Be the Place! is a mobile application that gives you directions to cool new places wherever you are!


It uses a sophisticated algorithm to encourage you to explore new routes even in familiar landscapes.


Start walking around and whenever you don't know where to go just consult the app by asking Where to now?


The app will then give you directions!


When you are near a cool new place the app will tell you "This must be the place!" It is that simple!


Users are encouraged to find their own places along their wanderings. Keep your eyes wide, your ears clear, and your mind open. Who knows what you'll find!


"I'm going to do it again! So fun." -a satisifed placemaker
"I got so lost, is that the point? I think that is the point. That is the point, right?" -another public placemaker
"A great excuse to get outside and wander around! I never just go for a walk these days." - a city placemaker

Public Beta is now open! Click the button to try it now!


Get Lost!

Volume 1 of the Lost In Place: Placemaking Activity Book (or pocket tour guide to just about anywhere) is now available!


This zine is meant to be taken with you while you wander through public space. There are suggested activities and resources and playful affirmations of placemaking that will get you out there making places in no time!


Volume 2 is in the works and will feature new and improved activities and rituals based on feedback from placemakers like you!


The Placemaking Activity Book (Vol. 1) is available for purchase in printed form with a special Lost In Place #2 pencil as well as a free download (PDF) that can be printed at home!


Placemaking Activity Book
Printed - $3
Volume 1 is out now!
FREE #2 pencil! (while supplies last!)
PDF - free!

With so much of today's information being circulated on online and on screens, what better way to spread ideas than to literally post them up in public space?


The Lost In Place poster series does just that! Public placemaking is an act that occurs in the public realm and these simple displays are meant to be put up in public.


The concept behind a poster series has two key motivations:


1.  To get users out in public and engaging with the urban landscape in a way that is both playful and exciting. The act of posting a message claims place and reinforces our active role as members of the public


2.  To spread ideas in the public realm. These posters represent thoughts that are hopefully provocative and will further the public dialogue of placemaking as a democratized act.


There is a conscious interplay between physical and digital at work in this series. Each hand printed poster is tactile and exists as a real object in a somewhat antiquated fashion, but the posters include artifacts of digital life as a nod to the technologies that influence our spatial realities. The posters direct the interested passerby to the online presence of the project, to bring the loop full circle.


QR codes and staples. Hashtags and ink on paper.



Posters are 11"x17" two-color risograph prints created in collaboration with Super Hit Press.


Poster Series
Printed - $5
PDF - free!
set of 5 limited edition posters!
Limited Edition 2-Color Risograph Poster Series Now Available!
Resources Contact

*all proceeds help fund the project and recoup printing costs

Public Space:


Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl (1980)

Urban Code: 100 Lessons for Understanding the City by Mikoleit & Pürckhaur (2011)




Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience by Yi-Fu Tuan (1977)

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (1958)




Situationist International Anthology by Ken Knabb (1981)

Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley (2010)

Walking as Mapping by Karen O'Rourke (2016)

Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord (1967)

The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel De Certeau (1984)





Suggested Readings

What happens When nothing Happens - R. Budieri (Union Press) [link]

Personal Public Space (Lecture) - Martin Rein-Cano (Topotek1) [video]

Mapping Your Manor - Lucy Harrison [link]

Haunted Houses (Lecture) - Timothy Morton (Rice University) [video]

Can You See Me Now? - Blast Theory [link]


more to come...

Food for Thought
Please get in touch!

This is an ongoing project and would greatly benefit from participants and contributors. If you would like to get involved, share your ideas, or ask questions please don't hesitate to drop me a line.



Lost In Place


Erik Schmahl is a student of geography and design. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in landscape architecture at the University of Arizona.




This website is under construction! Check back for more inofrmation!