©EDSA | Insights | Principles of Place | Mission Hills

While our personal experiences and preferences differ on exacting locations and aesthetics, we’ve come to realize that the outdoor spaces we collectively value most share many underlying commonalities.

Some contribute that special feeling to a site’s vortex, where a distinctive flow of energy and feel-good ambiance enhance the functionality and intentionality of place. In example, pleasantly shaded plazas with comfortable seating invite afternoon lunch goers and after-hour gatherings downtown. Pedestrian friendly neighborhoods with convenient amenities and ample green areas for recreation draw families into new communities. And, the seamless integration of spaces that support visual, communal and environmental connectivity encourage guest exploration at resort destinations around the globe.

There is no question that there is a strong design intent behind spaces that draw us in and make us want to get lost in our surroundings. What are those paramount common threads, which when woven together, create ever-lasting, quality-driven places? We’ve compiled our ‘shortlist’ of guiding principles, which serve as the design philosophies that – regardless of project scale or type – build the foundation of a masterful user experience.

©EDSA | Insights | Principles of Place | Kid in Fountain

Introduce the Journey

Develop an inviting, welcoming sense of arrival for guests, businesses, residents and visitors alike. Establish a streamlined, coherent design vernacular between drive corridors, arrival portals, parking courts and entry nodes. Make sure there is defined sequence to your design narrative and the way users experience it through ‘visual targets’ that clearly and logically lead people through and around a space.

Excite the Senses

Create immersive experiences with view sheds and landscape sequences that inspire the absorption of sights, smells, sounds and textures. Create synergies between programs, people and place. Add vitality to spaces with character, landmarks and focal points. Within the site, craft relevant state-of-the-art amenities that cater to all ages and abilities for complete engagement and immersion.

Prioritize Sustainability

Understand the parameters of a site to determine environmental sensitivity and carrying capacity. Implement eco-friendly technologies that result in greater energy efficiency, less use of finite fuels, preservation of natural features and protection of floodplains. Value propositions like LED lighting, green roofs, on-site food production and new systems in waste management and energy conservation respond to concerns for resiliency and strive for net-zero impact.

©EDSA | Insights | Principles of Place | Military Circle

Design for Flexibility

Great places are not measured by physical attributes alone – they also serve to intimately connect people to the place. Vital community resources, everyday spaces such as parks, waterfronts, plazas, streets and campuses offer opportunities to bring people together. Programmable for events, markets, concerts, social gatherings and everyday life, these spaces must emphasize beauty and human comfort with a flexible styling that accommodates groups of all sizes.

Bring People Together

Mixed-use communities improve home affordability, walkability, work life balance and neighborhood livability. To enable a more efficient and convenient use of services, a mix of shops, offices, apartments, services and homes should be considered. Overlapping layers of thinking, this mix adds to the community fabric with a greater level of interaction between all elements of a space – from amenities and natural land features to social gatherings at the village ‘living room’, a well-balanced outcome of social, emotional and economic vitality can be achieved.

These ideals, lessons learned and assorted experiences represent a sampling of the key ingredients that ultimately take good projects to great. Developers and landowners alike can benefit from a designer’s lens as they navigate the forms, functions and difference makers of a new, reimagined or restored project. For more insight and information on our ‘go-to’ principles of place, contact us at: [email protected].