My interest in atmospheres started through research on commemorative events and how they 'feel' to participants, but grew to extend to projects on art in public space; research on light, illumination and sound; design changes to urban public space; and digital technology. In 2014 I co-edited, with Tim Edensor (Manchester Metropolitan University), a special issue of Visual Communication on 'Designing Atmospheres'. Methodologies include both ethnography and creative practice, including on contain yourself (2015) a site-specific multi-media public artwork that I collaborated on with Fiona HillaryJordan Lacey and Elliot Palmer.  

In early 2017 I led a project funded by the City of Melbourne and the Queen Victoria Markets on the atmosphere of a market site in central Melbourne on the cusp of a major refurbishment.  In another 2017 project, led by Jordan Lacey (RMIT) and funded by Transurban, I helped investigate motorway noise and the impact of sound transformation technology on communities in Melbourne and Sydney. I also led, with Ross McLeod and Charles Anderson, a major project (2017-2018) in Melbourne's Docklands, called The Exchange at Knowledge Market, funded by LendLease and RMIT University, which investigated community engagement and 'activated' Victoria Harbour with a series of public projects. Much of this work was situated within the Design+Ethnography+Futures Lab at DERC, a group focused on how people make use of and understand design in many different forms. This included research on how design impacts on wellbeing, where I was a team member on a hospital-based project with Bendigo Health (Bendigo, Victoria), led by Sarah Pink and Laurene Vaughan (RMIT). 

This body of work is drawn together in my co-authored book with Sarah Pink, Atmospheres and the Experiential World: Theory and Methods (2018) that advances an approach to thinking atmospherically in order to bring new insight to our everyday experiences.

This interview on ABC Canberra 666 with Drive presenter Kim Huynh discusses 'what makes a good urban atmosphere?' (29 September 2017).


Sumartojo, S and Pink, S (2019) Atmospheres and the Experiential World: Theory and Methods. London: Routledge.

Edensor, T and Sumartojo, S (2018) ‘Reconfiguring familiar worlds with light projection: The Gertrude Street Projection Festival, 2017’, GeoHumanities. DOI: 10.1080/2373566X.2018.1446760. Available at:

Sumartojo, S, Lacey, J and Hillary, F (2017) ‘contain yourself: technology, the city and atmospheric intervention’. Media International Australia. DOI: 10.1177/1329878X17726888.

Sumartojo, S and Pink, S (2017) ‘Moving through the Lit World:  The emergent experience of urban paths’, space and culture. Forthcoming.

Sumartojo, S, Pink, S, Spong, L and Vaughan, L (2017) ‘Feeling better: sensory rooms in an inpatient psychiatric unit’. 3rd International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care, Health, 26-26 April, Aalborg.

Pink, S and Sumartojo, S (2017) ‘The Lit World: living with everyday urban automation’. Social and Cultural Geography. DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2017.1312698.

Sumartojo, S, Pink, S, Lupton D and Heyes LaBond, C (2016) ‘The affective intensities of datafied space’, Emotion, Space and Society 21: 33-40.

Pink, S, Sumartojo, S, Lupton, D and Heyes LaBond C (2017) ‘Mundane Data: the routines, contingencies and accomplishments of digital living’, Big Data and Society. DOI: 10.1177/2053951717700924.

Closs Stephens, A, Hughes, S, Schofield, V, Sumartojo, S (2017) ‘Atmospheric memories: Affect and minor politics at the ten-year anniversary of the London bombings’, Emotion, Space and Society 23: 44-51.

Sumartojo, S (2016) ‘Commemorative atmospheres: memorial sites, collective events and the experience of national identity’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Online first at

Sumartojo, S and Stevens, Q (2016) ‘Anzac Atmospheres’ in Drozdzewski, D, de Nardi, S and Waterton, E (eds) Memory, Place and Identity: Commemoration and Remembrance of War and Conflict. London: Routledge, 189-204ISBN 978-1-13-892321-8.

Sumartojo, S (2015) ‘On atmosphere and darkness at Australia’s Anzac Day Dawn Service’, Visual Communication 14(2): 267-288. DOI: 10.1177/1470357215579587.

Barns, S and Sumartojo, S (2015) ‘When one idea led to another: Re-inscribing and recombining thinking spaces using night-time projections at the Australian National University’, The Senses and Society 10(2): 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/17458927.2015. 1042243.

Hillary, F and Sumartojo, S (2014) ‘Empty-Nursery Blue: On atmosphere, meaning and methodology in Melbourne street art’, Public Art Dialogue 4(2): 201-220. DOI: 10.1080/21502552.2014.936686.

Sumartojo, S (2014), ‘‘Dazzling relief’: Floodlighting and national affective atmospheres on VE Day 1945’, Journal of Historical Geography 45: 59-69. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhg.2014.05.032.


The Exchange at The Knowledge Market (2017-2018). With co-investigators Ross McLeod and Charles Anderson, this is a year-long partnership with international property developer LendLease to understand and activate Victoria Harbour, Docklands.

Atmosphere, Authenticity and Vibrancy at the Queen Victoria Market (2017). Funded by the City of Melbourne. The full project report is available here.

Design for Wellbeing (2016-2018): an ethnographic investigation of how hospital environments are perceived and understood by their users, in partnership with Bendigo Hospital. See

Acoustic design innovations for managing motorway traffic noise by cancellation and transformation (2017). Led by Jordan Lacey RMIT School of Architecture and Design and funded by Transurban. See