The Genius of Place – Genius Loci (the distinctive atmosphere or the pervading spirit of place)

The genius of place begins with the prehistory, and the early history of place, the biography of place, but the key is the current ecosystem, both natural and what humans have wrought, and what it will support. The land organism, all organs – earth, water, air, warmth, and all plants, creatures, stones, are embedded wholes that depict the complete, systemic organism in all its forms and dynamism.

What is the underlying geometric matrix of all form and design? By applying deep sensory observation and long-practiced techniques of reading the landscape, and allowing it to reveal itself, we seek to find the underlying patterns in the land and utilize these patterns for development.

The land we, as human beings, occupy is nested within a bioregion. We think of the land as the center of concentric rings that expand into infinity. Bill Mollison, the originator of the Permaculture idea, created a template for design of a property called the zone system. As we shift from zone zero to zone five we move to areas of less and less human intervention and activity. This brilliant template for design helps us develop an efficient system in that what we place in the landscape goes from the intensive to the less intensive. If we expand further then zone five into the cosmos we have the conscious opportunity to merge the cosmic with the terrestrial forces that course through our land, wind, water, sun, atmospheric undercurrents, planetary dynamics. We are nested in the cosmos whose form-giving intracacies govern all aspects of life, earth, planet, stars.

We can take a page from JW Goethe, the nineteenth century poet, novelist, and scientist, and develop within us his method of astute sensorial observation, and rigorous conceptualization and imagination, in order to find the archetypal ideas and processes endemic to minerals, plants, animals and human beings, so that we become proficient in reading the signs. Goethe’s genius lies in the merging of art and science. In order to uncover the “soul” of the land we become as poet, sculptor, painter, musician, scientist, artist, an astute observer of life.