Essentially, Pallasmaa enframes his practical prescription for the 21st century architecture as up against a Western "visual bias" which he is able to trace back to ancient Greek philosophy all the way to Modern Western thought. Does this properly account for the poverty of architecture today? Yes, this is distinctly alienating in a visual sense. Structures, though built, seem to tear at their surroundings, destroying context, insisting on shallow recognition of presence above all else.
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He recalls that occupied by the visual sense we suppress what is utmost important — and that is the spatial experience we are invited to. You probably wonder what this has to do with fishing. But just like architecture provides a space, which is inhabited — fishing means inhabiting a space built by nature, evolving constantly. Sight is our dominant sense. We constantly rely on it as we study and categorize our surroundings.
But experiencing the world mainly through our eyes leaves us a distant observer. By watching something we create a distance between ourselves and the object. By touching it we connect with it. Try watching a movie without sound.
Eyes give us control. We can close our eyes from what we do not want to look at. Distancing ourselves from an unpleasant sound or odour is more difficult. Touch connects us to the world. Touching and being touched is essential to our wellbeing. As humans, we seek sensation. If we leave out the physical sensations — be it enjoying the sounds and scents of nature, listening to music, moving our body, tasting ripe fruit, or kissing someone — our minds easily begin generating their own drama to fill the void.
It is funny how superficial our sense of design often is. If we want to improve our homes, we easily end up changing the looks. By shaping our living environment to meet and greet all of our senses, we feel more alive.
After all, home is not a look. A space can look beautiful in picture but that is not enough to make it nice to live in. Scents, acoustics, tactile materials, forms, light, shadow, the weight and proportion of things, as well as the overall spirit of the space, overrules pure aesthetics. These qualities have a great impact on whether we feel comfortable, safe and at peace — or annoyed and stressed. The comfort and adventure small children find when building huts to play in, is a good example of design that is created using all senses, not for the sake of visual perfection.
Architecture initiates, directs and organizes behaviour and movement. A building is not an end in itself; it frames, articulates, structures, gives significance, relates, separates and unites, facilitates and prohibits. Consequently, basic architectural experiences have a verb form rather than being nouns. Authentic architectural experiences consist then, for instance, of approaching or confronting a building, rather than the formal apprehension of a facade; of the act of entering, and not simply the visual design of the door; of looking in or out through a window, rather than the window itself as a material object; or of occupying the sphere of warmth, rather than the fireplace as an object of visual design.
Architectural space is lived space rather than physical space, and lived space always transcends geometry and measurability.
The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, 3rd Edition
His early career is characterised by concerns with rationalism, standardization and prefabrication. This was partly due to the influence of his mentor Professor Aulis Blomstedt, who was very much concerned with proportional systems and standardization. However, the key models for this type of architecture were both Japanese architecture and the refined abstractions of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In Finland this type of architecture is referred to as "constructivism" - with only a family resemblance to the avant-gardist Russian Constructivism - and at that time, the late s and s, stood in opposition to the work of Alvar Aalto , who was increasingly seen in his home country as an idiosyncratic individualist. It was after returning from teaching in Africa that Pallasmaa turned away from pure constructivism, and took up his concerns with psychology, culture, and phenomenology.
The Eyes of the Skin- an architectural metaphor
The Eyes of the Skin Quotes