La Dérive, a French concept meaning an aimless walk, probably through city streets, that follows the whim of the moment.
French philosopher and Situationist Guy Debord used this idea to try and convince readers to revisit the way they looked at urban spaces. Rather than being prisoners to their daily route and routine, living in a complex city but treading the same path every day, he urged people to follow their emotions and to look at urban situations in a radical new way. This led to the notion that most of our cities were so thoroughly unpleasant because they were designed in a way that either ignored their emotional impact on people, or indeed tried to control people through their very design.
Sadie Plant wrote: 'to dérive was to notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed. It was very much a matter of using an environment for one's own ends, seeking not only the marvellous beloved by surrealism but bringing an inverted perspective to bear on the entirety of the spectacular world.'
Plant, Sadie, (1992). The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationst International in a Postmodern Age. London and New York: Routledge. English translation of the original article 'Theory of the Dérive' by Guy Debord.