Conceived space

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Conceived space is a concept thought by Lefebvre. Next to this concept of space he distinguishes perceived space and lived space as well. Henri Lefebvre’s notion of conceived space comes out of his book ‘The Production of Space’. Lefebvre argued that the production of space had been central in Capitalist development, rather than history (Hubbard, Kitchin, & Valentine, 2009, p. 270). In ‘The Production of Space’ Lefebvre discusses the gap between mental space (the space of philosophers) and real space (the physical and social spheres in which we all live). He examines the struggles over meaning of space and considers how relations across territories were given cultural meaning (Hubbard, Kitchin, & Valentine, 2009, p. 210). Lefebvre broadened the concept of production to social production, hence social space can be seen as a social product (Lefebvre, 1991, p. 26 & Hubbard, Kitchin, & Valentine, 2009, p. 211). Lefebvre’s theory of space as a social product is based on the idea of a dialectical process of production involving three fundamental dimensions. Historical notions of space are analysed on three aspects: the ‘perceived space’, ‘conceived space’ and ‘lived space’, which form the three dimensions of the triad of social space according to Lefebvre’s theory .

Conceived space can be taken as the conceptualized space or space without life, the ‘peopleless’ (Gronlund, 1993). The conceived space is the space of scientists, urbanists and architects. It is the dominant space within a society (or the production of space). 'Every society produces its own space according to its mode of production' (Baltazar & Kapp, 2010 & Gregory et al., 2009, p. 698). "A conceived space is a place for the practices of social and political power; in essence, it is these spaces that are designed to manipulate those who exist within them" (Lefebvre, 1991, p. 222).

Edward Soja’s work ‘Thirdspace’ is deratived from the work of Lefebvre. He notes that the mainstream spatial or geographical imagination has, for at least the past century, revolved primarily around a dual mode of thinking about space, namely through the conceived and perceived space. Edward Soja’s second space is equal to Lefebvre’s conceived space (1996, p. 10). The second space consists of the imagined representations of spatiality (Soja, 1996, p. 6).


Baltazar, A. P., Kapp, S. (2010). Out of Conceived Space: For Another History of Architectur. UC Berkeley.

Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M., Whatmore, S. (2009). The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th edition. London: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Hubbard, P., Kitchin, R. & Valentine, G. (2009). Key Thinkers on Space and Place, 2nd edition. Padstow: TJ International.

Gronlund, B. (1993). Lefebvre's first ontological transformation of space: Lived, Perceived and Conceived Space. London: Routledge.

Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Soja, E. W., (1996) Thirdspace Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing


  • Published by Marjolein Selten & Fleur van der Zandt
  • Edited by Robert Wursten
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