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College/ Department: Department of Architecture

Subject: AR325 – Planning 01


Time Schedule: MWF 10:30 – 12:30, W 12:30 – 1:30

Architectural Programming Number: RSW - 01


Architectural Programming Title: Genius Loci
Architectural Programming Due: September 02, 2018

References:
 Moughtin, J.C. (1992) Urban Design: Street and Square, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann., pp. 27
 Ahern, Emily M. (1973). The Cult of the Dead in a Chinese Village.Stanford.
 An, Zhimin, translated by W.Tsao (1991).On the origin of Chinese civilization. Journal of Henan
Normal University 18 (3), 67–72.
 Arie, Peled, and Schwartz Hava (March 1999). Exploring the ideal home in psychotherapy: two
case studies. Journal of Environmental Psychology 19 (1), 87–94.
 Eliade, Mircea (1991). The Myth of the Eternal Return; Or, Cosmos and History, 9th edn.
Princeton University Press.
 Richard Deacon Spencer Finch Dan Graham et.al. (2006) Genus Loci (Spirit of Loci) retrieved
from www.fondazioneberengo.org retrieved on September 2, 2018
 Eliade, M. (1961). The sacred and the profane. New York: Harcourt.
 Norberg-Schulz, C. (1982). Genius Loci. Landschaft, Lebensraum, Baukunst. Klett-Cotta, Stgt..

Student:
Tabinas, Lemuel Kim C.

Instructor:
Ar. N.K. LAtogan. MS Arch.
Introduction:

Many people today, in many parts of the world, seem to feel that any place should have
its own special character – “identity” is the word most commonly used – to distinguish it from
other places; and as part of the study of architecture, this paper will discuss and tackle on the
needs, importance and principles of “genius loci”.

This research contains some of the explanations that might be used along with the
designing and planning phase of a project. It is important to do have a full understanding of
these principles to be able to communicate and understand the language of the site.

Explanations and excerpts used to discuss the topic will enlighten the advantages and
setbacks on using the principles of genius loci.

Objectives:
1. To know more principles associated with site planning, specifically with genius loci
2. Do have a full comprehension of the topic
3. To be able to use the principles in an acceptable manner
4. To be used as a reference document providing information for more in-depth study of
particular aspects of the topic “genus loci”

Contents:
Architecture is a thing of art, a phenomenon of the emotions, lying outside questions of
construction and beyond them. The purpose of construction is to make things hold together; of
architecture to move us. Architectural emotion exists when the work rings within us in tune with a
universe whose laws we obey, recognize and respect. When certain harmonies have been attained, the
work captures us. Architecture is a matter of “harmonies,” it is a “pure creation of the spirit.”

Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture

As per definition, Norberg-Schulz, C. (1982) defined genius loci as “In contemporary usage,
"genius loci" usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere, or a "spirit of place", rather than
necessarily a guardian spirit. It has been Norberg-Schulz (1982) who re-introduced this topic in the
modern context, but the attempts of the postmodernists to reintroduce it into actually built architecture,
did not go beyond a naive an formalistic repetition of long surpassed historic concepts. History can never
be revived, it can only be understood and be taken as a base of knowledge for future developments.

Most people are charmed by the specific atmosphere of places, which developed over centuries
or have been very well planned and seem to convey a unity, a rightness and an atmosphere. A harmony
with Human culture and nature. These places cannot be reproduced, since their making was a complex
cultural process.”
According to Moughtin, J.C. (1992), Understanding the genius loci is a good starting point when
beginning study of the site. The sensitive perception of the spirit or nature of a place often provides the
key to charting the direction for future development. Peeling back the layers of history which encrust the
modern city reveals the reasons for its present form and function. Knowing ‘how that which is came to
be’ is a sound basis for future action. The richness of the urban realm is the product of a long process of
historical development. The drabness of much late twentieth-century development is, in part, the
product of a rather childish attitude commonly held by city designers, which treated history as irrelevant
for ‘modern development’. In the recent past the ideal platform for city development was considered to
be the uninterrupted site cleared of all former traces of occupation.

‘Peeling back the layers of history’ is one of those ringing expressions which can have many
meanings. It can mean, simply, the examination of an early ordnance survey map in order to determine

A brief history made by Richard Deacon, Spencer Finch, Dan Graham et.al. (2006) states that “In
classical mythology, the Latin term genius loci refers to a protective spirit attached to a place –– a
guardian who watches over their part of the world and imbues it with a special character. In modern
reality, we still need to be able to identify some genius loci in order to give us an understanding of our
environment. One way of negotiating between the public realm and the individual is through common
symbols –– in the form of works of art –– that help us identify with our landscapes. Whether those
symbols add, enhance, complement or even come to represent their surroundings depends on the impact
and intention of the works of art being placed.

Let us begin with the myth: In the spiritual pantheon of the ancients, beneath the peaks of the
gods, and among fertile banks, valleys and coastal plains inhabited by man, lived semi-divine deities;
dryads, nymphs and genii apportioned to guard, guide, and sometimes meddle with the busy work of life
on Earth. Every fountain, fortress, and forest glade had its own genius loci, a personified spirit who
dwelled in a particular place. In order for a structure to stay intact, the genius of its location had to
remain. Genii loco rum were not immortal, and the gods were apt to punish those who would cause the
protective spirits to flee or fall.

Geese, associated with the ‘genius’ of the Roman Capitol, woke the consul Manlius Marcus in
390 BC, allowing him to defend it from invading Gaul. The Tower of London –– and the kingdom –– will
stand, according to legend, as long as its six guardian ravens remain. Gradually, however,
anthropomorphic readings of the phrase slid towards a more ineffable sense of authenticity. Taken up by
landscape designers during the nineteenth century, genius loci usually suggested the indistinct, yet
ineluctable virtue of a place due to its environmental, cultural or spatial values. A spiritual preexistence,
which ensures continuity between all things borne of a specific location: the idea of the genius loci
endures, as does our fascination with the particularities of place.
By contrast, architecture fancies itself as beleaguered, or at least beholden to functional constraints of
housing the activities of being. Together with disciplinary contingencies of legal, political, economic and
technological structures, this allows architecture professionals to imagine the artist as a relatively
liberated figure.

In China, according to Ahern, Emily M.(1973) said that “The traditional worldview of Chinese
culture supplies a profound cosmology for generating symbolism. A Chinese city was built only after a
considerable list of requirements was satisfied. Local influences (xingqi), dynamic powers of what an
ancient Roman might call the genius loci or ‘spirit’ of a place, were determined before construction in
accordance with the shape of local terrain and the stars and planets wheeling overhead. No expense was
spared to ensure that the city conformed to traditional design principles.”

In addition, with reference to An, Zhimin, translated by W.Tsao (1991) said that “Space–time is
paramount in the traditional ideology of Chinese building, which resides in the ‘Kaogong ji’ (Manual of
Crafts) section of the Zhou li.The site and date for groundbreaking had to be confirmed by heaven in
advance. In the Book of Odes one Neolithic ruler consults tortoise shells to obtain information whether a
particular area offers the appropriate place and time for construction.”

Just like china, Africa also has its own belief, Eliade, Mircea (1991) said that “Most traditional
African religions promote the idea of harmony between humans, the natural world, and the world that
cannot be seen—which, depending on your viewpoint, could be anything from spirits to dark matter,
bacteria, and viruses. Daoist thinking consists of working with the planet, even to the point of cultivating
‘uselessness’ to avoid exploitation. In China, master builders applied the primary scientific theories of
Chinese civilization to individual structures. Significant numbers and celestial objects were conveyed in
the design of government buildings and humble dwellings, just as Renaissance artists sought to
incorporate ‘divine proportions’ in paintings and monumental architecture. Traditional Korean architects
analyzed terrain before building so that their structures did not usurp the primacy of nature. They hid or
de-emphasized necessary building or engineering devices and accentuated natural features. Building
materials were used as if they had appeared naturally.”

But in general in global view, according to Arie, Peled, and Schwartz Hava (March 1999) said that
“Humans mimic the macrocosm and the microcosm by conducting themselves so that they maintain
harmony between the cosmos and their world.

All rites used in the founding of settlements and cities seek to bring the human world to life
within the cosmic scheme. Determining structural orientation, laying a foundation stone, and performing
a sacrifice express the primordial creation of the world.

Orienting a structure to a particular time and place creates a microcosm of a meaningful instant.
Founding rites also pull a civic entity from the quantum world (unpredictable, invisible, no direction of
time) into the human one (visible, predictable, distinct matter and energy, forward direction of time).”

Eliade (1961) is also pointing out that “In all cultures, places have had a deeply mythological
meaning. The foundation of a house, a settlement or a town has been a religious act, which is still
reminiscence today. Architecture has an eminent role as a key interface and definition of our being-in-
the-world. Where natural environment is more and more lost, architecture takes a key role in creating
places and in the best case a ‘genius loci’.”

In addition, with of Eliade’s stand, Richard Deacon, et.al. (2006) stated that “Today, art and
architecture are locked in an embrace of mutual exploitation; together, they go shopping. Both
disciplines have long been instrumentalized by state or sovereign, underlining existing power structures
and latterly, market dynamics. Behold the abundant litter of recently established museums and galleries:
the very act of hosting art –– within an arresting architectural stage, of course –– is charged with
boosting the economic profile of depressed regions.
Contemporary public space is characterized by a tension between economic forces, political agendas and
cultural resistance. In the parlance of urban regeneration, the closest living relative of the genius loci
goes by the name of ‘place-making’ –– an equally mystical process by which denuded space is made into
‘place’. When rampant speculation threatens to strip a place of all identity, art is drafted in to endow a
‘neutralized’ ground with meaning and focus.”

Eliade, M. (1961) also pointed out that in these modern times, “The concept of "genius loci" has
been discussed in modern architecture, but still is much underestimated. When it comes to extreme
environment, the situation is even worse. The problem of sensory deprivation in extreme environments
should even result in putting more emphasis on the concept of genius loci. An important part of the
'spirits' of a place are the environmental energies. In space habitats the 'Life Support System' becomes an
intrinsic part of the 'atmosphere' of the habitat. On Earth, the use of these energies, not only to make
buildings self-sufficient, should enhance the quality of the architecture and our built environment.
Humans differently than the other entities of life on our planet are capable to force largescale
devastative change on the environment. The need to save our environment for future generations is one
of the greatest challenges that humankind must address today.

Our buildings are essentially enclosures to protect us from the impact of weather and allow
specific activities like residential, office, manufacturing, etc. to take place. Ecologically, a building is a
high concentration of materials, manufactured often using non-renewable energy resources, from some
distant place and transported to a particular location and assembled into a built form or an
infrastructure whose subsequent operations create further environmental consequences.

Environmental energies have actively or passively been used through all the building history.
Technology today offers a range of energy converters such as solar collectors, photovoltaic cells, wind
generators, biological recycling systems and more. Increasing resource costs of the public infrastructure
make the use of these decentralized systems more and more attractive for home owners. Our vision for
future buildings is that they will 'live' on local resources only, and even more help to improve the local
environment in terms of air quality, water quality as well as aesthetical quality. The building should be
one system within the natural environment, a “Genius Loci”.

We believe that designs with limited resources in extreme environments leads to a much higher
respect of nature and the human being and thus is generating a strong drive to improve life on Earth.”