Desire Lines on Campus

A desire line or desire path is a path that is formed by natural means, usually by humans.

These lines can also be called the paths of least resistant. In this post I will analyze the paths of least resistance in the NYUAD campus.

Firstly lets look at the way that humans flow, what i mean by flow is how we walk as a group. The reason i use the word flow is since there is a whole field of science called thinking fluid which addresses the flow of human crowds.

One of the interesting results of this field is what is known as Brass’ paradox, in which the applications suggest that placing barriers in certain areas may actually improve the flow of traffic, my thought is that the design of broadway in NYUAD had this in mind however, in my opinion this failed as a result of:

  1. The flow of foot traffic is not  being high enough for the paradox to come into effect.
  2. The architect or landscape designer placed an easily accessible section of grass, giving the user an, unintentionally, alternative path.

Below I analyze the path that I belive the designer thought that the user may take when entering the D2 area

What I think the designer thought the flow of foot traffic would look like

These paths suggest that the user will have to go around the central grass area making the path much longer. When students are hungry or are late to glass the last thing that is on their mind is the maintenance of the grass area.

The next photo takes a look at what the current paths that individuals take look like:

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 7.10.46 PM.png

One thing that may be noticeable is that the paths are relatively straight compared to the previous photo. My thoughts as to why this may be is that first of all this path is the shortest path, the path of least resistance, and secondly I think that this is as a result of human being highly goal driven, once the individual is able to see where he or she is heading to they would like to be able to reach that particular location as soon as possible.

Rather than forcing the user to go around obstacles in order to enjoy the landscape I feel that a designer must be willing to be flexible and, for the user’s experience, work around making the path around the desired path beautiful and practical. This is what my proposal takes into consideration.


The path will use concrete slabs to create stepping-stones to indicate a new pathway for the user. The concrete slabs will be slightly elevated above the grass. This will allow the user to feel more respectful to the remaining grass. If the slabs were at the same elevation as the grass it would make the user feel as the grass and the pathway are one and the same.

In order to further outline the path of least resistance for the user I plan to implement 4$ LED/Solar garden lights. This will resemble a runway of sorts that once again reminds the user to follow the desired path rather than ruining the rest of the grass.


Free By DHL solar Lawn Lamp Waterproof Solar Powered Outdoor Path Garden Patio Landscape Solar Floor Lamp Lights
The LED solar light For 4$ each

Moving on to the on to the next desired path that has been created around the bench areas that are behind the grass areas on the sidewalks. These areas are much-loved by the students especially the areas in A2 section of the campus.

This series of photos shows the place in which the bench is placed

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    1. The first image is the entire west plaza
    2. The second image is the A2 buildings
    3. The third image is the A2 Courtyard
    4. The last image is the grass area/ sidewalk

    My suggestion is to create the same effect that my previous proposal would create. A runway effect that allows the users to walk along the path of least resistance


This image uses the same colors as the previous plans, we will use concrete stepping-stones illuminated by warm LED solar garden lighting.

Furthermore, these simple stepping stones can be implemented across the campus across many other user pathways that have been formed across campus.

In addition, we can measure the amount of grass that is saved by my project can be shown by placing some AstroTurf in areas that could use greenery to make it look more appealing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s