Between Genuis Loci and Genius mundi: The future of place in global society


  • Joern Langhorst



The disappearance of specific places with a distinct local character as a result of economic and cultural globalisation invites the question whether the term “genius loci” is still a productive category. Should it be replaced with the global “genius mundi” when describing the phenomena of place? Modernist and post-modernist theories and practices have both contributed to an increasing lack of specificity among designed landscapes. The conscious disconnection of the discipline of landscape architecture from a larger context of cultural production and socio-economic and political processes, and a retreat to scientistic positions has done little to counteract the threat to the local genius loci, and contributed to a loss of influence and public profile of the discipline. An axiomatic understanding of the theory and practice of 'place making' beyond traditional dichotomies of nature-culture or global-local is suggested, acknowledging the concurrent existence of a variety of interests within a site, while contributing to an understanding of its value, imbue it with meaning beyond its current function - whether as repository of history, locus of ecological processes, venue for cultural exploration or economic progress. An informed process of value-based decisions might allow for an adaptation of the discipline of landscape architecture and the continuous emergence of specific places.


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How to Cite

Langhorst, J. (2004). Between Genuis Loci and Genius mundi: The future of place in global society. Landscape Review, 10(1-2), 36–43.



Short papers presented at the 2004 CELA