Re-envisioning our Genius Loci

by ConnectLA

“The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it…”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you were asked to envision ‘a space’ in your head, what comes to mind? An empty corner, a blank canvas, or a seemingly never-ending black abyss perhaps? It’s vague, objective, and more than likely we have all constructed the same empty, isolated space. Now, if you were to do the same exercise, but envision ‘a place’, what does your mind bring forth? Quite frankly, I can’t even hazard a guess on this one. Why? Culture, experience, emotion, perception.

To loosely define it, place = space + meaning (experience, emotion, perception). It is the connection formed between a person and a space, whether that connection provokes emotion, is rooted in culture, is a shared or isolated experience. Ultimately, it personifies a location, giving it an identity, creating a ‘sense of place’ or ‘Genius Loci’ (derived from Latin, translating directly to the guardian spirit of a place). Described by Architect, Christian Norberg-Schulz (1980), this ‘sense of place’ is “the interweaved result of physical and symbolic aspects of place: the merging of Earth’s topology, cosmological conditions (light, sky) and the existential threads of cultural landscape”. This ‘Genius Loci’ is unique to each person on account of these connections and how these connections are perceived.

As we pivot our way out of the pandemic (read more on how Connect pivoted its way through the pandemic here), our approach to design and how we create place is more crucial than ever. We can re-envision what is meaningful, be more inclusive, and build back better, more resilient, more sustainable designs with beauty and grace. Regardless, Connect remains grounded in its promise to create truly innovative design that inspires.

Design matters, and at Connect we do not speak one design language as each challenge poses a unique solution. We draw inspiration from the natural landscapes while embracing art and science, built form and infrastructure, and the interface between people and natural systems. 

Good design is intentional. Successful landscape architecture engages to and connects with people. We strive to deliver enduring design solutions that are sustainable, purposeful, resilient, and inclusive. 


Connect LA is a full-service landscape architecture firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Our values are at the core of everything we do. Our strength is in our people and our 35 years of diverse and award-winning success is driven by the love and passion for our craft.

Connect Landscape Architecture is a recognized leader in the design and transformation of healthy vibrant communities.  

Our vision is simple – Connect people to their environment through meaningful design. We pride ourselves on creating inspiring places and experiences for people. 

WRITTEN by Áine Proudfoot


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