I wonder what it is that makes us feel good about some places and somewhat funny or maybe indifferent about other. So much science have we – as a civilization mastered – and yet so many secrets remain. Buildings (or places) and how we feel about them is still in the fringe box so to speak. When I thought about it, I came down to two possibilities.
One – it could really be that the way certain places are made (by man or nature) in a certain harmonious way. I use harmony in a very loose sense, it can mean uniqueness or rules (imagine for example feng-shui or a type of humbling monumentalism, etc.). Pretty much similar to when art is universally accepted as beautiful, but with places and buildings it is just so much bigger that the harmony-effect (if you will) is simply grander.
The second possibility is that our expectations, thrills and experience we live through in our psyche projects itself outward to the feeling we get from the physical places. Simply that our mind plays tricks on itself and uses these places as some kind of mirror. So that would actually mean that different people might feel at certain specific places simply different. Obviously.
Whatever the case be I prefer to believe in the harmony-effect. This feeling (or energy) we speak about has a beautiful Latin expression “genius loci”, don’t ask me how it came about. The original meaning is the spirit of a place – meaning protective spirit. Today we in our Western culture use the term genius loci to describe the general spirit of a certain place more with the positive connotations like “good-vibe”, “feel-good” and / or (maybe) slightly esoteric.
The other week this June I had the opportunity to have a tour of a newly remodeled building for an advertising hub putting together all agencies within one group to one building. Making a creative / media master-brand building, having big brains in one spot. The building in Prague has a great “protective spirit”; apparently, it used to be one of the first office buildings with central air-conditioning in Central Europe. Built in the twenties it was one of the most modern office buildings, which comes natural since it was the original HQ of the Prague’s utility company providing electricity to the city of Prague. I think that WPP made a great job so far taking care of the careful and gentle remodeling and I cannot wait to see the final result. Buildings can be part of marketing… buildings with a soul go a long way. If you are in Prague, definitely go see it at 50°5′54.96″ N, 14°26′11.04″ E. In your town, look for those forgotten gems that can turn into something unique with that extra little twist… look for the genius loci.