Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Desire Paths

 “Planners love telling us which way to walk. Our built environment– especially our mercantile spaces, shopping centres and the like – is carefully constructed to control footfall and footflow. But we do like to collectively, unconsciously defy them. That is why we see desire paths in our landscape. Desire paths are lines of footfall worn into the ground, tracks of use. They are frowned upon in our national parklands, where they are seen as scars and deviations. PLEASE KEEP TO THE FOOTPATH…

Desire paths are interesting because of the way they come into being: a ‘bottom up’ system against the ‘top down’ methodology of the planner, and proof of human unpredictability. Nobody decides to make a desire path. There is no ribbon-cutting. These are the kinds of paths that begin over time, imperceptibly, gathering definition as people slowly recognize and legitimize the footfall of their peers.”

Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, 'Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness'

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