Thursday, September 16, 2004
A Sense of Well Being
This is not because of theory, or what I was taught in school. It's why I knew I wanted to be an architect when I was 9 years old.
It is why I usually don't like the work of Rem Koolhaas or Peter Eisenman. Koolhaas's Eurolille made me feel bad, although that wasn't true of his IIT building. I may be in London next week, and if so I will go to see Daniel Libeskind's new Graduate Center at Metropolitan University (see an interesting comment by the BBC, below*), to see how it feels.
In a post on my Top Ten Houses, I wrote,
Sometimes while visiting historic houses, I immediately feel at home. At Lord Burlington's Chiswick, which has no furniture, I had the feeling that all I needed was a mattress, some books and a reading lamp, and I would be happy moving in that day. Fallingwater was a little different: I only wanted to stay for the weekend, but then that's what the Kauffman's built it for. I thought it was the greatest party house ever built.
Chris Alexander has taken an interesting position on architecture and the importance of emotion in his four-volume work The Nature of Order, and I hope to see him next week in a conference at the Prince's Foundation. Now Yodan Rofé, a former student of Alexander's who teaches in Israel has put an interesting study on the web about urbanism and feeling:
In my doctoral research I did something very low-tech and distributed maps of a neighborhood to all homes. The maps were not all identical, and gave about a 1/4 mile square of area around each home. There was much overlap between these maps as i didn't want to force people's definition of their neighborhood. I asked people to walk around in the area they consider their neighborhood, and write down their feeling on a 4 level scale: 1- Very Good; 2 - Good; 3 - Bad; 4 - Very Bad. I then transferred these evaluations to a combined map, thus receiving a composite feeling map of the area.BTW, it's interesting that theory would lead me to choose a different room than the one above. Maybe an American room, or the Adam room from the Lansdowne House. I like that one better in photos, and in the photo above don't particularly like the ornament. But I feel a sense of well being there, more than in any of the other rooms at the Met.
Statistically analyzing the maps I could discern areas where people tended to feel better, and where worse. Another interesting aspect was that it is not very labor intensive, because you can get a statistically reliable picture (that is one that captures probably all the variation in the population), in a sample size of 2-3 people per block.
Read all about it in my recently published article on Planum.
* From the BBC Online (emphasis mine):
According to Libeskind, the three main interlocking "shards" were conceived to reach out to the nearby Underground station, the City and the university's main campus buildings. Somewhat bafflingly, he attributes his inspiration for the building to the "Orion constellation".
The Guardian's architecture critic Jonathan Glancey praised its "great presence". Like all of Libeskind's building's, "[They] appear to shatter in front of your eyes and yet miraculously hold together," he said.
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Crucially though, it also seems to get the thumbs-up of those who use it daily. History professor Denis Judd describes teaching in the building as like "giving a seminar in the wonderful Guggenheim building in Bilbao, though without the art".
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Tracked on May 7, 2005 1:22:07 PM
» Zaha! - Once more, with feeling. from Veritas et Venustas
FEELING is the new black. For the last decade, fashionable architecture has emphasized the importance of theory. At the same time, a movement has been growing to emphasize the importance of experience, feeling and intuition. Donald Norman's Emotional D... [Read More]
Tracked on Feb 3, 2006 10:35:15 AM
I'm going to be at the conference, although not the Master Class afterwards where I think Christopher Alexander will be presenting.
Posted by: ian at Sep 18, 2004 11:53:24 AM
Well I've come down with a herniated disk, so I unfortunately won't see you there.
Posted by: john massengale at Sep 18, 2004 10:43:11 PM
as a back pain sufferer you have my sympathy!!
Posted by: ian at Sep 19, 2004 11:40:44 AM
It is important to focus on the history of architecture around the world. I never get tired of seeing different buildings.
Posted by: Alan Daniels at Jul 2, 2008 4:11:13 PM