Finland’s “Desire Paths” Are Ingenious

It’s likely you’ve never heard of desire paths, though you may have actually used one and not known it. The term “desire path” was coined by French scientist, philosopher and poet Gaston Bachelard in his 1958 book The Poetics of Space. He described them as “paths created by usage” which pedestrians have taken to get from point A to point B more quickly than predetermined paths like sidewalks. In Finland, city planners visit parks immediately after the first snowfall, when the existing paths aren’t visible. They then plan paved paths around where people’s tracks appear the most. The marks of where people traveled then becomes like tracing paper for architects to create new walkways. Desire paths are where the locals have chosen to walk, and many times the path is shorter and more efficient than the established paths like sidewalks. The picture above shows the created walkway to the left and the desire path to the right. It's likely that the paved walkway will one day be allowed to go back to grass and the desire path will become the new paved walkway.