In recent years, the centres of many towns and cities have been reshaped by urban design projects, but little attention has been paid to how these transformations are experienced everyday by users of the city. In other words: how do the users of urban centers, such as shoppers, cleaners, or workers, perceive these changes, as embodied subjects in specific material environments? This paper analyses how bodies in two intensely designed urban spaces–the shopping centre of Milton Keynes, a 1960s new town, and Bedford’s recently redeveloped historic town centre–are affected by
elements of the built environment. ’Affected’ is a term borrowed from Latour (2004),and the paper works with, and elaborates, some of his and others’ work on how bodies
are effectuated by other entities. Such Latourian work pays a great deal of attention to how bodies are affected by both human and non-human entities of many kinds, and we examine how certain aspects of the built environment in these two towns affect bodies in specific ways. However, we also emphasise the variability in this process, in particular
that bodies seem unaware–or ambivalently aware–of many entities’ affordances.
Keywords: experience; urban design; embodiment; ANT