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Porphyry and the Quality of Place

Can beautiful Porphyry pavers make you smarter, more creative and like your community more?  From three diverse expert sources comes information about how the built environment affects people and why it matters.

Academy for Neuroscience for Architecture

This is admittedly an abstract concept, to help explain, architects often tell this story: Early in his career, when he was still struggling to find a cure for polio, Jonas Salk retreated to Umbria, Italy, to the monastery at the Basilica of Assisi. The 13th-century Franciscan monastery rises out of the hillside in geometric white stone, with Romanesque arches framing its quiet courtyards. Salk would insist, for the rest of his life, that something about this place—the design and the environment in which he found himself—helped to clear his obstructed mind, inspiring the solution that led to his famous polio vaccine.

He really thought there was something to this, that the quality of the built environment could affect the performance of the brain.

Architecture, including the landscape/hardscape can be inspirational, but why is it?  Architects have been talking for years about design informed by the work of psychologists.  John Zeisel is a sociologist and architect who has researched the design of facilities for Alzheimer’s patients.  Architects, he explains, “understand about aesthetics, they know about psychology.  The next depth to which they can go is to understand the brain and how it works and why do people feel more comfortable in one space than another?” 

 

Basilica of Assisi

 

If architects understood both fields, they might be able, in designing hospitals, schools, and homes for people with all manner of disabilities, to create places that would support the development of premature babies, the treatment of children with autism, the fostering of learning abilities of students. Imagine hospitals with such intuitive way-finding that no one gets lost (or stressed as a result); imagine an Alzheimer’s facility that could help its residents remember who they are.

“Changes in the environment change the brain, and therefore they change our behavior.”

The mission of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture is to promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment.

                     

Knight Soul of the Community (SOTC) is a three-year study conducted by Gallup of the 26 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation communities across the United States employing a fresh approach to determine the factors that attach residents to their communities and the role of community attachment in an area’s economic growth and well-being. The study focuses on the emotional side of the connection between residents and their communities.

“As it turns out, people’s loyalty and passion for their community is overwhelmingly driven by just three things: a community’s social offerings (or fun things to do) how welcoming it us to all kinds of people, and its beauty.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change.

 

Richard Florida – Florida is one of the world’s leading public intellectuals on economic competitiveness, demographic trends, and cultural and technological innovation. International diplomats, government leaders, filmmakers, economic development organizations and leading Fortune 100 businesses have benefited from his global approach to problem-solving and strategy development. Below is his take on quality of place.

“Why do people—especially talented Creative Class people, who have lots of choices—opt to locate in certain places? What draws them to some places and not to others? Economists and social scientists have paid a great deal of attention to the location decisions of companies, but they have virtually ignored how people, especially creative people, make the same choices.

Place itself, I began to realize, was the key factor. So much so, that I coined a term—quality of place—to sum it up. I use the term in contrast with the more traditional concept of quality of life to cover the unique set of characteristics that define a place and make it attractive. Over time, my colleagues and I have come to refer to these characteristics as Territorial Assets, the fourth T of economic development after Technology, Talent, and Tolerance (what I have elsewhere called the 3Ts of Economic Growth).

Generally, one can think of quality of place as cutting across three key dimensions:

  • What’s there: the combination of the built environment and the natural environment; a stimulating, appealing setting for the pursuit of creative lives.
  • Who’s there: diverse people of all ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations, interacting and providing clear cues that this is a community where anyone can fit in and make a life.
  • What’s going on: the vibrancy of the street life, café culture, arts, and music; the visible presence of people engaging in outdoor activities—altogether a lot of active, exciting, creative goings-ons.”

 

Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its f
lexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These beautiful materials are available from Milestone Imports.  
Milestone supports the creativity of architects, planners and designers. Porphyry offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet and red, depending on where it is extracted. 
–  www.milestoneimports.com