no-man's land between

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Hi, everyone.
This is from <Incurable Romantic> by Frank Tallis.
In the underlined phrase, what does a noman's land refer to? The paved pathway or the architecture(building, I guess)?

A grey, overcast day in autumn. I looked out of the window through streaming rainwater at a grim prospect: a narrow
paved pathway, hemmed in by temporary huts, leading towards a cliff face of soulless 1960s architecture – a no-man’s land between a research institute and a psychiatric hospital. The people who traversed this desolate corridor were mostly psychiatrists and nurses, but occasionally I’d see a stray patient.
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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "No man's land" is not clear.
    1) The research institute might be (have) a building and the psychiatric hospital might be (or have) a building, and the "no-man's land" might be the unloved space between them.
    2) Or more metaphorically, it might refer to a building which looks like a "soulless" cross between a research institute and a psychiatric hospital.
    But "corridor" suggests to me that 1) is meant - a space not a building.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, I'm pretty sure that's what it means. The corridor doesn't "belong" to the research institute or the psychiatric hospital. It's between the two and could be used by people from either building.

    Of course, it's an analogy to a battlefield where no man's land is the space between the opposing forces. It doesn't belong to either force because it's too dangerous for either side to be in.

    He is hinting that he research institute and the psychiatric hospital have elements of that relationship. They aren't completely on the same team.


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Just an additional "background" comment:
    The term no-man's land can be used in a wide swath of circumstances to mean "a dangerous or unpleasant location" such as in the following skit where two students in a school are talking to each other:

    A: You don't want to get called into Mr Smith's office. He's the vice-principal.
    B: Why not?
    A: That place is considered a
    no-man's land by just about everybody, students and teachers alike !
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