chapter  2
25 Pages

From a Themed to an Anti-Themed Environment, and Back

ByMark Gottdiener

The meaningful environment of the ancients was produced by the activities of belief, discourse, and materialization, articulating together in the human practice of recognizing and mollifying the power of their respective gods. The conception of the natural world as a meaningful or signifying place created the earliest instances of the themed environment. During ancient times, everyday life consisted of folly themed spaces where every tree, stone, location, or individual had a connotative symbol attached to it. Humans have always been symbol-producing beings; from the earliest times of cave paintings and artifact production, they have endowed their environment with themes and signs that held power. Reliance on themed milieus in the built environment began to increase in the 1970s. The new planning models addressed the ills of urban life through Utopian planning and simultaneously infused the built environment with a richer symbolism.