Essential Human Qualities in Strengthening Place Identity as Expressed in Louis Kahn’s Architectural Theory
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Place identity is a term that has arisen within the past two decades and which has affected
architecture considerably. Consequently, architectural space and place are also related to place identity.
There are two dimensions for place identity. On one hand, cultural characteristics such as social,
historical and geographical factors form the distinctiveness of individual places. On the other hand,
some common, unchangeable and essential qualities in human nature are considered to be effective in
the formation of similar qualities in different places. This paper signifies similarities of place identity.
In this sense, identity is analyzed more through its relation to nature rather than to culture. This
approach is argued through the analysis of what is known as ‘essential human qualities’ in the main
theories in psychology and phenomenology. Consequently, with reference to the main objectives in
Gaston Bachelard’s (1964) theory, the relationship between natural human needs and desires in
architectural space is argued. This theory provides the basis upon which the essential human qualities in
Louis Kahn’s architectural approach are analyzed. This part gives an insight into how place identity is
related to Louis Kahn’s theory. In the conclusion, it is presented that a significant fundamental need to
return to essential human qualities in architectural discourse exists. This paper argues that it is
necessary to attain the levels of space which are very humane. In this sense, space can possess unique
and special qualities which are ‘true’, ‘pure’, ‘simple’, ‘familiar’, ‘intimate’, and ‘free’. When an
architectural space is deeply experienced, perceived, and appreciated, then we can expect to achieve a
place which is more intimate with our human identity.
Place identity, essential, human nature, natural human needs, meaning, louis kahn, architectural
Faculty of Architecture, University of College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran