Desire paths: what Roy Bayfield calls the “counter-grid trajectories” or well-trodden, corner-cutting routes that people often walk in parks, campuses and other formal settings where the designated paths have come to seem irksome.
Much has been written about desire paths as allegories for innovative thinking, the counter-culture, informality and resistance to bureaucracy. Right- (or left-) thinking planners design them in, or wait for them to be revealed in the first snow. Ad-libbing (a form of dramatic desire-pathing) oils the wheels of creativity.
So that, these days, it’s hard to see desire paths as anything but a good thing – the antithesis of the over-determined, regimented approach to social and urban planning that is represented by ‘Keep off the grass’ signs.
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