- - - > HOME







"Scores are symbolizations of processes which extend over time" (RSVP CYCLES, 1)... while this is hardly gives a concrete image of scoring, it begins to find clarity in examples of application. Halprin notes that scores include not just musical or movement notation, but are actually omnipresent in our society. A grocery list is a score; so is a calendar, an almanac, a cave etching. They express through symbols (characters/ assigned notations) something larger, more meaningful than the symbol itself. Halprin saw this practice as highly suggestive of a design methodology which related more to process, deep involvement, and an activated collective than most design practice, which was result-oriented and didn't consider more meaningful, non-static elements in design.

Much of Halprin's methodology was developed through interaction with his wife, dancer/ choreographer Anna Halprin. Halprin likens the dance and planning worlds by identifying the fact that process is more dominant, more relevant, than an end result. To draw this out in design practice, Halprin created many varieties of scores, scoring actions and environments both graphically and with text. Halprin's scores were scripted experiences leading people through space. asking them to remain in a highly perceptive state while they were directed from site to site and told to perform certain movements or tasks. The instructions are the notations from which participant's activities are created/ extrapolated.

We might again look to an example to clarify. In the example of his City Map score, there is a score for the individual and another collective score, both explaining the experience of a journey through San Francisco:


Each individual is given a path, an order, and the collective score maps out each individual in relation to the collective score.

Reviewing some of the language of the City Map score:

  • Imagine yourself in a place of fantasies and act accordingly.
  • At the sound of the 3 o'clock chimes, stand and face the sun.
  • Don't let anybody touch you. Move quickly and steadily,

it becomes clear that the participants are acting out a mental and physical choreography in a defined space. The choreographer, Halprin, looks for these score instructions to lead to a common language of experience which would allow collective thought to be integrated into design.

Perhaps the most radical idea at work in this methodology is the framework of subjectivity used to build complex design ideas. While most site research and exploration finds validity and relevance in claiming objectivity of results, Halprin's scoring process does quite the opposite. There is no attempt made to withdraw one's close, subjective feelings in choreographing the score, and the success of the score in informing design process is based on participants freely expressing their most personal and subjectively interpreted experiences. By embracing rather than dismissing subjectivity, Halprin is able to be inclusionary of a wider field of tangible, human experience, a base for creating environments based on the realities of site.