Hotel Design Inspiration - Genius Loci, or "The Spirit of Place"
By Amanda Tower Global Communications and Branding Manager, Wilson Associates | November 27, 2016
Capturing the essence and soul of a location that surrounds a structure, and exhibiting that essence through the design extends the cultural experience into the hotel and further establishes a sense of place within the lodging experience. In architecture and interior design, genius loci is a profound inspiration for creating a sense of "place" and a truly unique experience for guests. How does genius loci inspire hotel design, both structurally and in the interior design, and how can hotels use it to create a more enhanced guest experience?
What is Genius Loci?
The genius loci is a long-familiar concept in architecture and design, and has, over many years, been adapted and incorporated in a variety of ways. In fact, the origins of genius loci (Latin for "spirit of place") date back to ancient Roman religion. The Romans constructed numerous altars throughout the empire dedicated to the protective spirits of those places. In Asia, the spirits of places are still honored today in numerous indoor and outdoor shrines.
The genius loci is widely known as one of the principles of garden and landscape design, established by 18th-century poet Alexander Pope, who determined that the design of a landscape should always be adapted to the context of the location. In architecture, the Neo-Rationalist style, derived from the genius loci concept, is identified by the incorporation of vernacular elements and forms, and adapting the structure to the existing environment.
What motivates a traveler to journey to a distant locale? Often it is the desire to be immersed in the culture and character of that place, to have an authentic experience unlike any other. A hotel that presents an exclusive experience that is an extension of the culture and feeling of the locale is likely to excite and attract these guests.
The "spirit" and "power" that resides in a place is unique to that native area, and is considered part of the land. Capturing the essence and soul of a location that surrounds a structure, and exhibiting that essence through the design extends the cultural experience into the hotel, its restaurants and services, and further creates a sense of place for guests.