Milano master-class

20. Trails with Popular Appeal

#lesson1 #lesson5 #mainstream

If we really want this to be a long-term success and have a large number of users, I think it’s important to create trails that can appeal, in one way or another, to the greatest number of people.

In the past, when people wanted to make a path in the countryside, it often went like this: you had, for instance, a village here, and fertile land over there. Between the two there was a mountain and a pass, which was the lowest point between the two. So, the choice was either to climb the mountain via the pass and redescend toward the fertile land—that was the quickest route. But the uphill trek wasn’t suitable for donkeys and mules, so people also blazed longer and flatter trails around the mountain. This is a very simplified explanation. Here, we know that in 100% of cases, without exception, if there is a hill, you’ll find two trails: the one used by walkers and the one for donkeys and mules. And that was a response to a need to get from point A to point B.

We don’t have the same need with Metropolitan Trails. We don’t want to go from point A to point B; we want to discover everything that’s between point A and point B. In Antiquity, if they could have flown directly between two points, they would have. They couldn’t, so they tried to find the easiest and simplest paths to follow. Today, we have the choice. But there is this question: How can we select a path that meets people’s needs? How are we going to create a path that will be appreciated by the greatest number of people, something that will last for the long term? Here, my opinion differs from Jordi’s: people also need to see where they are. They will pass through spaces where they can have a wide view of the city, and if some people don’t want that view, they can close their eyes—they don’t have to look. But we should at least give them the opportunity. It’s like a photograph. If we took a photo of this wall: to describe it, there’s a television, a desk, windows, the roof, light fixtures. These are simple words that can be varied. But if we asked an artist to paint it, they could make a perfect rendering, almost like a photograph, or it could be something very artistic and interpreted. We could decide not to take walkers to lookout points, not to approach the sea, not to traverse the historic center, and so forth, but that’s all an artistic interpretation. Personally, I think it’s really important to give people choice. Give them the broadest spectrum of choices so the greatest number of people will enjoy the trail. That for me can stand up to the test of time.