“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Choosing The View

Not owning my own car I use public transport. And I walk. Pretty much everywhere. When I am in Glasgow I often walk from the city centre - to Charing Cross where In The Moment is based - and back again after work. It's good for me, although I do have the occasional moan about the amount of stuff I have to carry.

Over the years of walking around the city I have learned my favourite routes. And I have realised a lot about how I choose my routes.

1 - Traffic.  Of course. Some of the city centre streets are busy and polluted and whilst I have to cross them at junctions, I prefer to stick to the streets with fewer cars.
2 - Terrain. Depending on what I have to carry, my energy levels and the weather, I often choose my route based on the gradient of the hills - and Glasgow has many.
3 - Location of my favourite coffee shop. :-)

And finally, the criterion which I have realised is my most important one.

4 - The view.

There are streets in the city centre that I avoid and streets I enjoy. This is partly to do with the architecture, although Glasgow's historical architecture is a joy whenever I choose to look up at it. But it is more to do with vista. Like many cities, Glasgow's centre is built on a grid system, so it has long, straight roads, especially those running East/West. And these streets are the ones I choose carefully. I have noticed that the view - the vista has quite a marked impact on my mood.

My best example of this are two streets which run parallel to each other. West George Street and West Regent Street. 

I avoid walking down West Regent Street. And this is the reason. Both images courtesy of Google Street View.



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Whereas West George Street ...



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What makes a huge difference (to me) is what I see at the bottom of the road. What I am heading towards.

This is partly what I am looking at. In West George Street, it is the beautiful Tron Church, whereas at the bottom of West Regent Street is a modern building, still under construction and it blocks the route and the view. The Church is pleasing but is also affords a view of the sky and a sense of heading towards something other than a dead end. I also know, and anticipate, that West George Street flows around the church and onwards, so I have a sense of flow.

This greatly affects my mood. The sense of flow is clearly important to me. The other view speaks of stagnation.

We are all affected by our environment, whether it is the built environment, natural environment or the internal environment of buildings. What we are surrounded by can have a significant impact on how we feel.

For me this is very much about a sense of light and space, warmth and safety, access to nature and to a view of the sky.

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