P.S(09.11.10). I decided to write my paper for this course on this book with the underground library of my university. Only by rereading the notes and looking back did I just find that I love this book so much.
1 Beyond the body boundary
We measure the world from our own bodies. Front thus became quite different from the back. The most original image of house resembles a human face, windows as eyes, the door as mouth, the fireplace as heart. Even the back of the house has the role of anal implications. The American open lawn recalls the personal envelope of space that we usually try to maintain around our bodies. By finding a suitable boundary in their own caves people also extended the image of mother and womb to residence within the womb of the earth mother. "At a later time humakind would more daringly seek shelter in the light and would build a wall around a space open to the sky." "So the walls followed the development of the city and gave it form." "Seeking to memorialize the masculine part of the creative act as well, perhaps, as to find a way to hold up a roof which would not interrupt the freee passage of people or of breezes, mankind invented the column." A row of columns could form a front porch of unusual power (in Greece). Arch and dome were endowed with celestial significance (in Mediterranean cultures). Roof sloped down on all sides, pinpointing its centrality (in farther east). By Roman times the column had often fused into a wall, yet still used to suggest potency in (e.g. a triumphal arch). The column might also extend into a tower, perhaps with a top or even a banner on top of that. During Louis XIV in France, "the king's bed lay at the center of his palace at Versailles; roads from Paris and a host of other places converged on that spot, and from it a web of garden allies extended, locking nature in the proud imperial grasp." Columns were recollected, as the single visible roof from Egypt, Greece, or the Middle Ages has given place to huge palaces that extend the body of the king into the landscape. With Louis XIV the idea of a complex and specialized building began to emerge.
2 The Mechanization of Architecture
Since Louis XIV architectural themes and designs have come to be organized around special functions. Specialized architecture came about along with the industrial revolution in the seventeenth century, when human and divine themes perpetuated by the aristocracy and church were challenged by the engineers, militarists, and industrialists whose influence was rapidly expanding. In eighteenth century, physics study was separated from philosophy within the academies, eventually all kinds of national schools dedicated to professional and applied studies were founded. Between 1750 and 1758 German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten wrote Aesthetika in which he attempted to establish aesthetics as a scientific study. He still emphasized the difference between the nonrational knowledge derived from the senses and the pure knowledge derived rationally from logic, and implied that art is inferior to science as a science of lower knowledge. While the Royal Academy of Architecure in France emphasized the scientific approach to architecture, the Ecole des beaux-Arts founded shortly after the French Revolution treated architecture as an art. As the authority of the sacred themes became either less acceptable or less comprehensible, the need to debate the basis for these new norms of measurement intensified.
3 The Sense of Beauty
Despite all those philosophers that argued the study of art should be rationalized, there were also people who believed that feelings wre able to reveal a measure of truth. The Earl of Shaftesbury, "the most ingenious way of becoming foolish is by a system." Diderot thought of aesthetic experience as being dependent on a wealth of associations. Hume proposed that feelings might express a conformity between an object and an organ of the mind independent of a reasoning process. Kant argued, as acknowledging the forces of feeling, our response to those forces would not give us pleasure unless we made a mental judgment of them. Hegel defined the beautiful as the sensuous semblance of the Idea and limited those senses which were organs of aesthetic pleasure to sight and hearing for they do not alter or consume their objects. For Hegel, the function of art was fundamentally addressing itself to the mind, namely bringing before the grasp of the senses truth. Art was said to be a "thing of the past".
There were efforts in the nineteenth-century aesthetics to incorporate the body more directly into the experience of objects. Robert Vischer coined the word "emphathy" to be a feeling rather than a process of formal thought and that we may project our emotions into them. The feelings of artists when making pieces of art could be the content of the work of art. By the end of nineteenth century, though the human being was seen as possessing a psyche, the physicalpart was a subject of mechanical laws. The body was a cumbersome necessity that served the lofty mind.
4 Some Twentieth-Century Models of Sense perception
The study of aesthetics seemed esoteric and unpredictable, while it was the psychologist in the early twentieth century that utilized the experimental method to study sense perception. There was a tendency to reduce a complicated pattern to a more recognizable and simpler pattern. Individuals tend to simplify patterns toward horizontal and vertical rather than skew organizations; towards symmetry rather than asymmetry; and toward geometric groups rather than random or less precise ones. Gestalt psychology and experiments observed that humans possessed a tendency to simplify and order stimuli. Geoffrey Scott observed that there is a distinction between bigness and the feeling of bigness, and seemed to warn us not to accept a standard of architectural beauty derived from visual criteria alone.
The Five Basic Senses: Confusion arose during the nineteenth century centering around relating individual body organs to the many different sensations. The fifth sense of Aristotle was divided into pressure, warmth, cold, pain, and kinesthesis (sensibility to motion). J.J.Gibson's strategy was to regard the senses as aggressive, seeking mechanisms and not merely as passive sensation receivers. He lists the senses as the visual system, the auditory system the taste-smell system, the basic-orienting system, and the haptic system.
Basic-Orienting and Haptic Systems: The mobilized orientation involves a total body balance, referred to as orientation. The haptic sense is considered to include the entire body rather than merely the instruments of touch. You see and hear things figuratively and at a distance, but you touch the actual thing.
The Sense of Dwelling: We experience satisfaction in architecture by desiring it and dwelling in it, not seeking it. The feeling of buildings and our sense of dwelling within them are more fundamental to our architectural experience than the information they give us.
5 Body-Image Theory
All experiences in life, especially in three-dimensional space, are dependent on the unique form of the ever-present body. Individuals possess an unconscious and changing image of their bodies which is quite separate from what they know objectively and quantifiably about their physicality. We unconsciously locate our bodies inside a three-dimensional boundary. The body boundary may be modified by cloths, badges, weapons, or any artifact. The psychophysical coordinates possess an orthogonal front/back, right/left set of coordinates but vertically rigid up/down coordinate. People derive meanings from senses about these six directions. By combining the values and feelings that we assign to internal landmarks with moral qualities we impart to the psychophysical coordinates, we can imagine a comprehensive model of rich and sensitive body meanings. Facial expressions and activities reveal the personal world of man, who experience the world by his own body.
6 Body, Memory, and Community
The heart of the distinction between the "feeling" of space and the "objective" space is that obejective space does not require the existence of a centerplace. Theodor Lipps characterized empathy as the objective enjoyment of self in another person or object, while Paul Schilder suggests that we attempt to enjoy people for themselves, as others. In this respect, feelings are seen as social and other-directed. The curiosity about others' worlds not only allows us to enjoy an external expression of our private feelings, but confirms our own existence in humanity.
The House: The relationship between a bodily boundary and the house boundary becomes evident when we realize that certain feelings originally associated with body transactions may be evoked by activities within a house. The house becomes a single body metaphor for one or ore persons. A house is the most personal possesion of the family it serves, and that family expects to be able to occupy all its parts.
The most basic orientation of house is up/down, for that is the dimension by which the house asserts its physical location in the landscape. "Experiences attached to ascending or descending from the center of the house celebrate values constituted by the family rather than the more public institutions." Architectural embodiments of up may literally designate aloofness, detachment, privacy, and rumination, thus the attic becoming a special communal hideaway as well as a repository of dusty memories. Down is of the earth and carries the implications of a cave.
In ecclesiastic architecture of the Middle Ages monks had to study the scriptures or meditate in open, public rooms. Only during the development of secular architecture in the Renaissance that the modern studio emerged to express a new individualism and a freedom of scholarly inquiry apart from the authority of the Church.
Memories at the Center: The historic overemphasis on seeing as the primary sensual activity in architecture leads us away from our bodies. In addition to serving social rituals the centerplace often recalls and celebrates the basic life-supporting elements (fireplaces in America, fountains in Mexico, front yards in German village houses, etc.).
"The same orientations and sensibilities that function in the house must also exist in the city if it is to have a human identity. An elegant landmark in a house, such as a mantle clock, may appear as an urban landmark in the form of a lofty clock tower." There should be not fundamental difference between the way we orient ourselves spatially to the inside world of a metropolis and the inside world of a house. Both require the feeling of being bounded, possessed, and centered. "No matter how spectacular the forms of the buildings within the city may be to the eyes of its citizens, the meanings and feelings that the buildings give will be diminished if those buildings cannot be 'possessed'("keep off the grass" sign...?). )"
7 Body Movement Robert J. Yudell
We make places that are an expression of our haptic experiences even as these experiences are generated by the places we have already created. Our bodies and our movements are in constant dialogue with our buildings.
The Spatiality of Movement: It is not surprising that forms are more often the focus of our attention than space or movement in space. Space is thought of as void and movement as a domain separate from its existence in space. Dancers speak of "feeling" space. A vital aspect of the dancer's maintenance of a sense of body center while moving in space is the continuous awareness of the pull of gravity. Rudolf Laban described movement in terms of the "frontal", "vertical", and "horizontal" planes, providing a triaxial structure remarkably similar to the psychophysical coordinates of the body-image theorists.
The Building as a Stimulus for Movement: A building is an incitement to action, a stage for movement and interaction, a partner in a dialogue with the body. Ebbs and flows, weights, rhythms, and surges are inherent in our movements. Imagine horizontal body movements like hopscotch or normal walking, or vertical rhythmic events like raising and lowering the chest and changes in relative alignment of body weight, not to mention the internal rhythms of heart and pulse. The ziggurat buildings yielded a street section like a canyon, yet the sheer prisms give us "shafts". The space of Western cultures is usually ordered in a rectangular grid. "When we want a short cut, a quick transition, a transformation, we cut through at a diagonal (as in Manhattan)."
The Building as a Stage for Movement: Buildings can encourage a choreography of dynamic relationships among the persons moving within their domains (the ramp and stair of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoie).
The Building as a Partner in Dialogue: Where do we sit, lean, nestle? Where and how do we move?
Our Repertoire of Movement: Modern technologies such as train, bus, metro, and elevator make people move farther but actually move less. We seem to be functioning with a reduced repertoire of active movement. We are replacing motion with "frozen speed".
The Frozen Body and the Floating Body: If the body is becoming frozen and encapsulated in space, it may also be the victim of the opposite excess: becoming unhinged, free floating, and alienated in architectural space.
Insiduous Strains of Futurism: In the hand of a brilliant craftsman like Mies van der Rohe, a spatiality of alienation may still provide its rewards through the elegance of material and construction. Yet the futurist group Superstudio has given us some of the most haunting images of bodily alienation. Our bodies are circuited out of tour existence as our world is realized in electronically stimulated sensation.
8 Place, Path, Pattern, and Edge
The inhabited world within boundaries can usefully be ascribed a syntax of place, path, pattern, and edge.
Place: Objects in a void, to voids in a solid, or to special conditions at an edge between voids and solids (cave, room, walled treasury, porch or tower, flags and banners, tents, etc.). The prime characteristic of a public place is public inhabitability (Piazza di San Marco in Venice, parks in London, etc.).
Path: Paths can go from A to B, or back to A. Paths are combinations of straight lines and curves, and they can intersect. Paths can go up, go down, or maintain one level, and each corresponds to a special sense. Path has a nature as void ready to receive human movement, depending on and uniting the surfaces that front on it, rather than suppressing or dividing them. One kind of path is created by an elongated plaza, whose opposite sides are more closely related than its adjacent ones. A more prevalent kind of architectural path is of course the street, edged perhaps on one or both sides y continuous buildings or flanked by free-standing structures with spaces in between. Since a path implies movement, the form of locomotion is important (pedestrian movement is flexible, bicycles or animal-drawn vehicles extend the range of possible speeds, and the automobile...).
Pattern: Patterns are composed mostly of paths and places, but it is the system by which they are related that allows us to make sense of a bounded space. The usual kinds of patterns can be classified as haptic, haptic with geometric, centripetal radial, centrifugal radial, the grid, and lately the three-dimensional grid. Haptic patterns are composed of piece-by-piece responses to the situation at hand rather than being based on any kind of visual or conceptual grand design. Radial systems were made by cows, consisting of major roads leading from the country to the heart of the town and minor roads serving individual neighborhoods. Greek planner Constantinos Doxiadis suggested that important Greek ceremonial sites were laid out around the human participant who thus becomes central to the place. Twentieth century theoreticians have added a dimension to the organizing grid to aggrandize what they call an infrastructure into what they term megastructures.
Edge: Especially notable elements of the edge are the facade, the parapet, the wall, the bay, and the fold in the system. Fold in the system is the place where the pattern stutters to produce an edge.
9 Human Identity in Memorable Places
What is missing from our dwellings today are the potential transactions between body, imagination, and environment. Comfort is confused with the absence of sensation. The special, immaculate collision, in which building or landscape pieces come sharply up against one another without loss of their individual identities of spirit, is especially important in the making of memorable places. Architectural design thus become a choreography of collision which, like dance choreography, does not impair the inner vitality of its parts in the process of expressing a collective statement through them.