Time Warner Experience, New York City by GlobalDesign Workshop and Cuningham Group
Hobbesian Concept Design Principles
Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679), English philosopher. He believed that human action was motivated entirely by selfish concerns. He is best known for his treatise Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil (1651).
Hobbesian |ˈhäbzēən| adjective
On a fundamental level, designers have two choices concerning those that will use the places we design. One can assume that one’s creation will be so novel as to alter normative human behavior, or one can assume that humans will continue to behave as they have done throughout history.
To this destination master planner and destination architect, the later seems the more reasonable course. Thomas Hobbes believed that human actions are entirely motivated by selfish concern. Perhaps this is an extreme view. It is to be hoped that this is not an entirely accurate position. Yet our long and storied observation of the way people use public spaces suggests that Hobbes, if cynical, was not far removed from reality.
In no place is this more true than in destinations where people choose to spend their leisure time. It is their limited time, and the very point of leisure for many is to spend time as they please.
Thus, designers of destinations, retail architecture destinations, town center destinations, entertainment destinations and resort destinations, should they desire their projects to succeed, are wise to assume that Hobbes was accurate in his assessment of his fellow man.
An appropriate design process derivative of this assumption is as follows:
OBSERVATION: Observe successful destinations. Observe the manner in which people interact with the spaces, their patterns of movement and behavior, their responses to stimuli.
ANALYZE: Analyze and decipher observed behavior. Compare and contrast successful destinations with those that have failed.
EXECUTE: Develop actionable criteria based on this observation and analysis. Design and build based on that criteria.
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.