genius loci |ˈjēnēəs ˈlōsī; -kī|
noun [in sing.] the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place.
the presiding god or spirit of a place.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: Latin, literally ‘spirit of the place.’
Genius loci. The ‘spirit of a place,’ the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place, of a destination. In more common parlance, ‘Sense of Place.’ A modified version of a definition from Answers.com:
Either the intrinsic character of a place, or the meaning people give to it, but, more often, a mixture of both. Some places are distinctive through their physical appearance, like the Grand Canyon; others are distinctive, but have value attached to them, like the Piazza San Marcos in Venice. Less striking places have meaning and value attached to them because they are ‘home,’ and it is argued that attachment to a place increases with the distinctiveness of that place. Planners use this argument by consciously creating or preserving memorable and singular architecture to make a space distinctively different. Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and, in an entirely different manner, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens are all examples of distinctively different places, destinations designed from the start to create genius loci. All this is done to encourage in people an attachment to that place.
A final element is our own experience of that place; if you had been extremely happy in central London, the sight of Trafalgar Square would reawaken a sense of pleasure in you. (http://www.answers.com/topic/sense-of-place)
GDW created this blog as an ideas forum dedicated to the design theory behind the creation of great destinations, places and architecture, the human psychology behind peoples’ responses to places and architecture, and the methodology necessary to create design excellence, to craft genius loci.
This forum is a depository of ideas, a research resource, and ultimately a tool to create new ideas. We will discuss the elements common to great places, study the distinctiveness created by inventive architecture, and exam fractal design theory.
Water, especially with (small) boats, green, places to sit, people to watch and open space are always popular in an urban environment.
This curving liquid spine is the literal and figurative backbone of the city, connecting tourist destinations to “town centers” for locals.
People, activity, water, opportunities to wander and outstanding views of Prague’s town center.
Morocco’s largest souk spills into this grand square, Marrakesh’s town center, that comes alive with food and entertainment and the sun’s shadows lengthen and the cool of the evening gives relief to the heat of the day.
New Orleans food and jazz, the highest concentration of colorful people to watch, cafes, retail and entertainment for all.
Retail design at its roots – people, people, people.
A small waterfront square with outstanding views of the Bosphorus with cafés, restaurants, art galleries and artisan shops.
Before there were theme parks – long before there were theme parks – there were the Tivoli Gardens. A mixture of nature and amusement, Tivoli has been a favorite pastime during the long days of Copenhagen’s remarkable Summer since 1843.
The birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is steeped with history and romance, and its outstanding streets and squares filled with people, retail shops and restaurants.
Bryant Park is a peaceful place in the midst of Manhattan’s towers and crowds. Just blocks from Times Square, this “Town Center” park is a favorite with locals seeking sun, sleep or society.
Since 1461, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has served as the city’s retail hub. 250,000 to 400,000 people a day wander the Bazaar’s streets, domed bedestens and dine in its shaded outdoor courts.
Built 2000 years ago by the Romans, this ancient retail district has thrived ever since, and is worth study by anyone interested in creating a thriving retail place.
The Piazzas at the heart of this stunning Tuscan city are multi purpose, and are frequently and quickly repurposed – a late night outdoor theater becomes an early morning farmers’ market.
State Street, where the pedestrian comes first, the auto a distant second, is always active, always filled with people. It is a thriving outdoor retail and entertainment center where the primary form of entertainment is watching all the people.
This stunning Southern Bohemian city, along with the castle perched above it, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and dates to the 13th century. This small but gorgeous town, bifurcated by its “S” shaped river, is an easy and rewarding walk.
Prague’s town square, with its animated clock, variety of architectural styles, retail shops, cafes and restuarants, as well as its proximity to a plethora of outstanding streets and districts is only rivaled in Northern Europe by the much larger Paris.