European Antecedents for Crafting “Place”

G.    European Antecedents

This article presents another of those ubiquitous web-post “lists”, but one that is intended to stimulate introspection about the urban “places” (whether large City or small Town) that any of you (and I) have personally visited.   This list of European antecedents which define “place” is not a quote of Sim Van der Ryn’s lexicon from his “A Pattern Language” (Oxford University Press, New York, 1977), as wonderful a work as that is – even when extrapolated for multiple functions and city scale – or some other sage’s more purely esoteric listings, but elements of cities with a depth of societal involvement that is foremost in our mental image of each element collated from a number of sources.

Think about the physical realities the following components and the verbage in which they are presented bring to mind from your education, personal experience, and in the “places” you frequent.  Then, consider them in the context of your “places” – whether they be Venice, San Francisco, Atherton, Santiago, Hamburg or Newport, or…

  • Which “places” are brought to mind? 
  • Is the recollection, and the experience in the “place” where such has occurred, positive, negative, unremarkable, worthy of further exploration, worthy of action to better define the place? 
  • If so, why or why not? 
  • What unique elements (not only synonymous place designations) are missing and can be added to the list?  (Send along your additions or modifiers for consideration as a “comment”!)
  • In your village, town or city, which elements exist, could be enhanced to excel as a “place”, or are definitely missing?  Does the uniqueness of your “place” mitigate such a need?

 1.  Patrons

  • Aristocracy
  • Church
  • Plutocracy
  • Philanthropy (Person or Group)
  • Natural Feature / Natural Hazard
  • Victory
  • Commemoration
  • Revolution / War
  • Renewal (Wien, Ringestrasse, e.g.)
  • Growth of a Successful Institution
  • New Technology or Economy (Cannon, Rail, Air)

2.   Purposes

  • Victory
  • Commemoration
  • Revolution/War
  • Renewal (Ringestrasse, e.g.)
  • Growth of a Successful Institution
  • New Technology or Economy (Cannon, Rail)
  • Thanksgiving (Delivery from Plague, e.g.)
  • Protection (Wall, Castle, Elysees e.g.)
  • Assembly

3.   Artifacts

  a.  “Parks”

  • Sportspark/Stadium/Race Course
  • Kurpark/Spa
  • Stadtpark
  • Naturpark/Reserve/Botanical Garden/Zoo
  • Man-Modified Open Space

  b. “Culture”

  • Casino/Community Center
  • Spa/Baths/Pool/Clinic/Hospital/Home
  • Bandstand/Amphitheater/Opera/Theater
  • Museums: Art, History, Folk Culture, Special Product or Event or Personage
  • Historic Building, Site or Complex
  • Promenade/Quay/Vista/Boulevard/Esplanade
  • Piazza/Platz/Plaza/Forum,
  • Fountain
  • Public Gardens
  • Library/School/University
  • Marketplace (see also Commerce)
  • Fairgrounds/Festival Grounds
  • Cathedral/Church/Monastery/Convent
  • Palace/Parliament/Government Center


  • City Gate/Wall/Bastion/Bridge
  • Terminals: Air, Train, Bus, Ship, Cart/Automobile
  • Cemetery!

  d. “Commerce”

  • Marketplace/Bourse/Mercantile Center/”Main Street” (see also “Culture”)
  • Terminals (see also “Arrival/Departure”)
  • Resort
  • Financial/Bourse
  • Product-Specialized
  • Industry
  • Agriculture

  e. “Housing”

  • Palace
  • Estate
  • Mews
  • Crescent or “Place”
  • Detention !
  • Barracks
  • Itinerate Lodging
  • Campground

Combine these elements with those in discussions of edges, nodes, pathways, and landmarks from earlier articles in this “Crafting Place” series.  Then consider how your community (and you!) did / does / can…

Craft Places!


(This post continues the “Crafting Places” series, which began on October 4, 2010, with a “Preface”, accessible on-line at  All published posts in the series can be easily linked on-line via the “Urban Design” sub-page “Crafting Places” of this “RenaissanceRules” site.)


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
This entry was posted in Architecture, Bauwerk, Planning & Urban Design, Recapitulation, Reformation, Renaissance, Renaissance Rules and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.