genius loci

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genius loci. Latin term meaning ‘the genius of the place’, referring to the presiding deity or spirit. Every place has its own unique qualities, not only in terms of its physical makeup, but of how it is perceived, so it ought to be (but far too often is not) the responsibilities of the architect or landscape-designer to be sensitive to those unique qualities, to enhance them rather than to destroy them. Alexander Pope, in Epistle IV (1731) of his Moral Essays, addressed to Lord Burlington, states in his Argument that, ‘instanced in architecture and gardening,… all must be adapted to the genius of the place, and… beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it’.

Bibliography

Batey (1999);
Goulty (1991);
Norberg-Schulz (1980a)

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genius loci the presiding god or spirit of a particular place; originally with reference to Virgil Aeneid ‘He prays to the spirit of the place and to Earth’; later with genius taken as referring to the body of associations connected with or inspirations derived from a place, rather than to a tutelary deity.

Alexander Pope in Epistles to Several Persons (1731) has a related phrase, ‘Consult the genius of the place in all.’