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During 1960s and 1980s with the contribution of Kevin Lynch, Aldo Rossi, and Christian Norberg-
Schulz “social culture” be...
to the problems are already exists within the place. Consultation of the contextual sense of the place
via local community...
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Genius Loci

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Genius Loci is a well famous Urban Design concept reviewed and discussed by many authors and scholars. The document give a brief introduction to Genius Loci and how it relate with urban Conservation.

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Genius Loci

  1. 1. During 1960s and 1980s with the contribution of Kevin Lynch, Aldo Rossi, and Christian Norberg- Schulz “social culture” became a significant component in the urban design arena. With their ideas the “Place” was identified as a strong media that incorporate the human and the world in a more powerful way. It highlights the uniqueness of each and every place that cannot reproduce the same sense or the expression in another place. With these discussions “Genius Loci” one of the oldest mythologies exists in Late Roman emerged gradually in urban design. However the scholars in between 1870-1940s such as Patrick Geddes, Ebenezer Howard had already initiated this myth in a more significant way in the urban design context through their concepts, theories and practices. According to the Roman mythology each place was protected by a deity or a supernatural being. This mythology gets a new face with the discussions of above scholars. They said although there won’t be a guardian spirit each and every place has an underlying spirit that only expressed in one particular place. According to Norberg-Schulz ultimately it gives a visual impression (Image) to a place. At the time of this discussion it was said that architecture consists in a place emphasize the combination of the spirit and the place and it associate with the structure of the place. In Ancient cities such as Vilnius, Greece the spirit of the space was created by special architectural designs, statues etc. But there is no hard and fast answer what expressed the spirit of the place exactly. In the ancient town, at the crossroad of small streets, in the churchyard, in a small square with an ancient tree, on the rural road or old hill or in slums may be it is a cemetery, the people don’t know who has died and why such a statue is there but it created a spirit to the place. There are two psychological functions that move with the spirit of the place: Orientation and identification. Orientation facilitates the person to identify where he is and keep himself safe in the context. According to Norberg-Schulz Spirit gives Life to people and places both. Identification is needed to receive character and the spirit of belongingness to the place over the time when the place evolves. Patrick Geddes initiates the idea of “cities are evolving” in his “conservative surgery” approach. In enabling the evolution of the cities many of the authorities practiced removing, demolishing and restructuring the artefacts in cities under the name of problem solving. Geddes “Conservative surgery” approach stands here to safeguard the “Genius Loci” (Spirit of the place) where it means amending and improving the places by minimizing destruction of existing buildings for the sake of new structures. In the case of Lahore, Pakistan Geddes argues that; “The existing roads and lanes are the past product of practical life, its movement and experience, and observation and common sense alike show then the right direction, and therefore needing only improvements” More a place is used, touched, loved, and allowed to be it, the more it will create itself, allow itself to grow a soul. It creates an immaterial spirit in a material place. Geddes conservative surgery created a new school of thought in renewing the urban environment by understanding the genius loci of a place. It is not simply the historic form of the place but the recognition of the meaning, validity and the richness of the place. It is the layer of significance added to the place. It was illustrated in the case study of Balrampur, India by remaining all the temples in identifying its spirit in future developments. He tries to see Genius Loci in terms of the strong connection between the time and the space. He emphasize the best way to solve the problem is not shifting the problem to another area but by taking into account the traditional way of life of the city into question and find the solutions. Otherwise such removing and destroying disturb the spirit of the place. So it repeatedly emphasized that the solutions “Consult the genius of the place in all; That tells the waters or to rise, or fall” -Alexander Pope, 1731, lines57-60
  2. 2. to the problems are already exists within the place. Consultation of the contextual sense of the place via local community who interact with the place solves the problems easily without spending thousands of pennies. References C.W. Thompson, Geddes, Zoos and the Valley Section, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh < http://journals.lincoln.ac.nz/index.php/lr/article/download/219/130> (Last accessed on 27th April 2014) A. Snodgrass, R. Coyne ( 2006) Interpretation in Architecture: Design as Way of Thinking, Abington. < books.google.lk/books?isbn=1134222637> (Last accessed on 25th April 2014) C. I. Cighi, (2008) Senses of Place, University of Massachusetts, pages 11-165, Amherst W. Qian, (2012) Investigation of Genius Loci Theory on Historic Commercial Blocks in China, Karlskrona, Sweden J. Markevičienė, Genius Loci (Spirit of Place) <http://www.kpd.lt/failai/u1/EHD2012_in_Lithuania_text_by_J_Markeviciene.pdf> J. Watt, In search of genius loci, spirit of place R.Harwoth, (2001) Patrick Geddes concept of conservative surgery G.Jiven and P.J.Larkham ( 2003) , Sense of Place, Authenticity and Character: A Commentary, Journal of Urban design, Vol 8, 67-81 < http://www.larwebsites.arizona.edu/lar510/encounter/sence%20of%20place.pdf> M.Saraff, (2010), Vestiges of Urban Spirit: Isfahan’s Urban Fabric through Socio-spatial Transformations, School of Architecture & the Built Environment, Sweden <http://www.divaportal.org/smash/get/diva2:391130/FULLTEXT02.pdf>

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