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Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture
The Visual Image In an increasingly digitalised world, architecture is influenced by the visual and the virtual image. When we see buildings on the internet, we see two dimensional visual representations of what a building is or what the building is supposed to become. We even see buildings that do not exist in reality. Thanks to more visual techniques and more media attention to architecture, architecture itself is adapting to this new situation. Architects are putting even more appealing images on the screen. Whereas in the past you could only judge a finished building ‘in situ’, it is now possible to write your comment on many blogs with the click on the mouse button. That does no do justice to contemporary architecture. Since more criticism relates to the visual aspect of architecture, people look at the visual representation only, instead of seeing the object in real life. This new phenomenon means that architecture has already been judged, based on the digital representation of the object. As architects anticipate this new kind of criticism, architecture – instead of being an object with different layers of experience – is reduced to the single layer of vision. According to Juhani Pallasmaa, “Instead of an existentially grounded plastic and spatial experience, architecture has adopted the psychological strategy of advertising and instant persuasion; buildings have turned into image products detached from existential depth and sincerity”[i]. As Pallasmaa further explains, we have become spectators instead of participators in our surroundings, looking at a visual image projected on our retina.[ii] As a consequence we feel detached from our surroundings and that could explain why we feel alienated in many contemporary urban environments. In order to stop the alienation of architecture, we must strive towards a higher awareness of multisensory perception in contemporary architecture. Perception of Architecture Take for example the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. When you visit this square, you will notice that the space is described by the architecture surrounding it. Moreover, San Marco Square has a certain atmosphere. You will recognize the surroundings as architecture, but it is not only architecture itself that defines the atmosphere of San Marco Square. That atmosphere is also generated by the sound of the tourists and the birds, the feeling of the paving stones, the warmth of the sun and the smell of the sea. Norberg-Schultz states that a place cannot be considered by its visual appearance alone. If we want to define the whole ‘atmosphere’ of place we must, according to Christian Norberg-Schultz, ask ourselves the following questions,: “How is the ground on which we walk, how is the sky above our heads, or in general: how are the boundaries which define the place.”[iii] The surroundings communicate with the human body as you move through the space, feel the texture of the walls with your hands, hear the footsteps echoing through the hallway, feel a cold breeze in your neck or walk towards the light. As you experience a scene like this, it is not only the eye which creates the experience. It is the combination of all the senses together, which creates the ‘atmosphere’ or character of the space. It is difficult to predict how we will perceive the surroundings, because it is related to our emotions and senses. That is why perception is often seen as something irrational. Empirical research on perception has revealed many theories on how we perceive and experience space. Unlike the applied sciences,
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it is important to see these three concepts together. A 2 of 11 31/07/2011 16:57 . such as audition and metonymically the entire body through time. This makes it very important for architecture. a sixth sense that. http://www. According to Kamiel van Kreij’s thesis. but also tell us that none of these three concepts stand alone.. stimulating movement of the body. which we see through our eyes.. in the narrow sense of cutaneous impressions. resistance. rhythm. or with our body. kinesthesia and syneasthesia.[vi] Because of this. Nor is it a clearly definable group of senses with just so many nerves and corresponding qualities of sensation”. A good example of kinesthesia in the urban environment is parkour. a direct relation with touch and movement exists and therefore with hapticity as well. because they constitute how we perceive our surroundings. Also according to Hegel. or just moving with the eyes makes us experience architecture in a less static way. Also by active exploration of the environment. Syneasthesia Syneasthesia implies a phenomenon that transfers sensory information from one sense to the other. is perceived with the entire body and in particular through the vestibular.[v] Often the haptic experience is created through active exploration of the environment using your body. which makes it somewhat difficult to explain. You can say that hapticity confirms our impression of depth. haptic experience is not explainable in a simple way: you always have to define the hapticity further when discussing haptic experience in design. named after the inner ear. Speed. touch is the most primary experience in architecture because the senses of the skin are the mediator between the skin and the world. whereas touch. accounts for balance. According to Juhani Pallasmaa. Gibson describes haptic experience as a very complex matter: “The sense of touch in the everyday meaning of the term turns out to be an extremely elaborate and powerful perceptual system but not a sense in either the physiological or the introspective meaning of the term.[ix] This street sport uses the urban environment as its domain. haptic experience becomes three-dimensional. and threedimensional shape of material bodies and thus makes us aware that things extend away from us in all directions”[vii]. because moving through space with the body. touch is the only sense which can give us a feeling of depth.[viii] Kinesthesia is not a direct interpretation of our surroundings by the senses. a connection exists with kinesthesia. and speed become relevant as part of representation. Hapticity Haptic experience refers to experience through touch.net/?p=6&cpage=1#comments there is as yet no general theory about perception. as a more multi-layered experience. perception of architecture consists of three major concepts: hapticity. because they define a more constructive view on how we ‘as humans’ perceive architecture. If kinesthesia is taken into account in the design process.Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture « Design. Kinesthesia Kinesthesia is the exploration of our environment through movement. The goal is to get as quickly as possible from one point in the city to another overcoming urban obstacles. has been supposed to be capable of yielding information only about patterns on the skin in two dimensions”. this can be movement with the eyes. it is possible to generate architecture. as well as urbanism. Diana Agrest explains Kinesthesia in a broader context: “ Other senses beyond the limits of the visual and the spatial. Like a walk through the forest. but whereas touch has often a two-dimensional character. Because movement is involved in this active exploration. a dimension inseparable now from space-time. “touch senses weight. motion sickness.[iv] Even though they have different names. I will briefly explain these concepts. Even though everybody understands it as something with which they are born. movement.designyourownmind. Or as Gibson clarifies: “ […] the haptic system can yield information about solid objects in three dimensions. dizziness and vertigo”.
Towards Multi-sensory Architecture As a result of the dominance of the visual. 30. but also.. because in the future the visual might become so important that people lose contact with the real architecture. [i] Pallasmaa. Combined. Higher-order variables can still be discovered. and these dimensions become ingredients of our very existence.Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture « Design. these concepts are the embodiment of a person’s perception what is human in his/her surroundings. Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture appeared in the INDESEM 2009 PRE-PUBLICATION which was a supplement to VOLUME #19 published by Archis. 3 of 11 31/07/2011 16:57 .designyourownmind. http://www.[xiii] The concepts hapticity. According to this phenomenon there is a connection possible between phenomenological views on perception and syneasthesia. it shows that perception is dynamic and can even change over time.”[xiv] So in a certain way you can say that we are already influenced by our environment. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. However. even in old age. into the basic substance of being. without touching the object. and this mediation takes place through the senses. people can participate again in their surroundings and regain their identity in the contemporary world. or sensory deprivation. Juhani (2005). This device was later known as the ‘sensus communis’. creates an environment for the future user that seems to be turning increasingly into a non-existent area.. this moment. If we succeed in enticing the senses. to create a coherent representation. that penetrates our consciousness. like cameras and microphones. it must become a more sensuous environment for people. as it is today.[xii] According to Wolfflin.[xi] Aristotle saw syneasthesia as the device connecting all the senses together.[x] Charles E. space. According to Kamiel van Kreij. perception is not a static phenomenon when kinaesthesia is deployed.net/?p=6&cpage=1#comments good example of this concept the way in which we refer to the colour blue as being cold. matter and time fuse into one singular dimension. with which the brain can see and hear. Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world. p. this place. for example. Syneasthesia is often seen as a combination of all the input from the senses in the mind. its existence is not questioned. This is important to know. in this way the object you perceive does not remain a distant object but enters our physical realm.“ [xv] If architecture played more on the senses. How often do we wonder why historic city centres appeal more to us than most contemporary urban areas? If architecture is to be less alienating and autistic. Because of earlier experiences with the sensory properties of the material. This is because “the phenomenology of architecture is thus ‘looking at’ architecture from within the consciousness experiencing it”. architecture would become less of a flat visual image. this association within the mind in relation to sense and sensation. as we learn from earlier experiences. An Architecture of Visual images: The Eyes of the skin. the way you experience lines in woodwork as warm lines and steel engraving as cold lines. Looking and listening continue to improve with experience. because of the deprivation of the other senses. “ The eyes and ears are not fixed capacity instruments. can be seen as. architects are less concerned about the other senses when creating architecture. your memory relates to those properties again by seeing. Even though it cannot be fully explained by natural science. Osgood defines syneasthesia as follows: “the use of descriptions from one sense modality for sensations from a different one”. kinesthesia and syneasthesia each explain a certain area of theories about sensory perception. “ In memorable experiences of architecture. The loss of the ‘sensuous’ in architecture. We identify ourselves with this space.
NO PRIOR PRESCRIPTION REQUIRED!… Combivir@buy.. [xii] Aristotle. 2010 | Category: Writings 153 comments to Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture 1 2 3 4 Newer Comments » CAMERON June 24th. 2010 at 12:58 pm Medicamentspot. Juhani (2005) Multisensory experience: The eyes of the skin.online” rel=”nofollow”>. p.designyourownmind. An Architecture of Visual images: The Eyes of the skin. De Anima. 25 [v] Gibson. II. p. p. [xv] Pallasmaa. New York:Princeton Architectural Press. [vii] As quoted in Pallasmaa. March 28th. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.London: Allen and Unwin. [iv] van Kreij. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. David (1974) Psychology for Architects .Christian (1996) The Phenomenon of Place in Kate Nessbit. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Juhani (1996) The Geometry of Feeling: A look at the Phenomenology of Architecture in Kate Nessbitt. p.(1968) The senses considered as perceptual systems. Amsterdam: G + B Arts International [ix] http://en. Special Internet Prices (up to 40% off average US price).net/?p=6&cpage=1#comments [ii] Pallasmaa. New York: John Wiley and Sons.(1968) The senses considered as perceptual systems. 420. p.269 . Juhani (2005). 102. Theorizing a new agenda for architecture: an anthology of architectural theory 1965-1995. pp26-36 p. p. 72 . London: Allen and Unwin. accessed on 22-02-2009 [x] Bohme. p.wikipedia.42 . London: Allen and Unwin. Theorizing a new agenda for architecture: an anthology of architectural theory 1965-1995 . 135.James J. Diana (2000) Representation as articulation between theory and practice in Stan Allen. 76. 1-2 [xiii] Pallasmaa. [xiv] Gibson. p.org/wiki/Parkour . 30.com International Legal RX Medications. Technique and Representation. 450.James J. (1968) The Senses considered as Perceptual Systems.… JON 4 of 11 31/07/2011 16:57 .31 [xi]Canter. p.(2008) Sensory intensification in Architecture.Towards a multi-sensory perception in Architecture « Design. [viii] Agrest.James J. [vi]Gibson. Practice: Architecture. http://www.. Gernot (????) on Syneashtesia in Daidalos 41.Kamiel. p. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. [iii] Norberg Schulz. Juhani (2005) The Task of Architecture: The eyes of the skin.
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