Cognitive Mindfulness #8
Today’s quote comes from one of my favorite books about architectural design, Archetypes In Architecture. The book explores the functional grounding of the major elements of architecture.
“Shared experiences, like symbolic meanings, are based on recognition, but this time with reference to our bodily experiences…Such experiences are common to all people and are gained through confrontations with the phenomena which surround us…In other words, the existential expression of an architectural form, which is based on the form’s motion, weight and substance, is recognized on the basis of our common experiences with natural phenomena. In the same way as symbolic meanings in architecture, existential expressions form images to which we react. This means that we ‘use’ our surroundings psychologically prior to using them physically. This is stated also by architectural theorists such as H. Wöllflin: “…we interpret the whole outside world according to the expressive system with which we have become familiar from our own bodies. That which we have experienced in ourselves as the expression of severe strictness, taut self-discipline or uncontrolled heavy relaxation, we transfer to all other bodies.” [25-29, Thiis-Evensen, 1987]
I had a brief conversation with a retired architect from New York City about a month ago, he kept stressing to me how the chief role of an architect was to determine the way that design would be utilized by people to satisfy particular interruptions to their routines, and in that way architecture is intended to be functionally grounded. His descriptions about the observational process sounded as though they were right out of an ethnography text book, and the function orientation immediately made me think of the embodied experience as grounding for conceptual structure. The Thiis-Evensen quote, in my mind, confirmed that correlation.
Thiis-Evensen, T. (1987). Archetypes in architecture, Norwegian University Press
Wölffin H. (1966). Renaissance and baroque, London (p 77)
NB: “Wolffin” has multiple acceptable spellings, however, in this work the spellings were inconsistent, I retained the spellings as found in the text.