Genius loci: an interpretation of the idea of place in city design
Murray, Martin A.
Rowe, Peter G.
Master of Architecture
This thesis is concerned with the establishment of a conceptual framework for the investigation of "place" as it is expressed phenomenologically, that is, through its "genius loci". Part I suggests that by viewing the phenomenon of genius loci according to three specific "perspectives" -- philosophy, myth and poetic expression -- we may formulate a normatively structured interpretative schema. Here, the assumption is that such perspectives contain within them universal values representing man's reaction to "the spirit of place" - such values can form a basis from which to construct the interpretative schema. Part II introduces and develops the proposed schema and suggests a methodology of use through the presentation of a case study. It further suggests that as architecture and urban design is, at its most profound, a "place-creating" act, it too may prove susceptible to such a schema. The intention of the thesis is to show that the notion of place is a fundamental need for man; that genius loci gives rise to the expression of this need as it exists phenomenologically and that this need is representative of a delicate balance between universal wants and localized conditions and dissimilarities. Ultimately in a world where such an equilibrium is disappearing, there is an urgent need for a greater understanding of "genius loci" and a reinterpretation of it in regard to architecture, and urban design.