Thoughts on a Memory Palace

Therme Vals, Peter Zumthor

In this digital world full of visual noise and fast-paced bombardment of pictorial architecture, comprehension of the architectural experience is largely being directed by the latest style, prevailing taste and trend.  The “phenomenological truth” has become provisional based on the desire to build iconographic “paper” architecture; much of what is built now is too tepid to be remembered.While this response can be measured scientifically, there are intangibles that are hard to measurably quantify.  Or are they?  Architecture, like poetry, can be analyzed by meter, rhythm, syntax and structure to understand why it works. These measurements, however, can’t explain a visceral, emotional response to a poem.  Similarly, architecture has the ability to transcend art and science when it comes to the anticipation, the surprise, the etherealness and the human experience of a space.

Therme Vals sketches, Peter Zumthor

 Numerous precedents examine the authenticity of the architectural experience – for example, Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals, Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum and Wang Shu’s Ningbo Museum.  Through observation, case studies and in depth analysis of those precedents, we can better understand our intangible desire to experience the built environment and be transcended by it. As we explore and engage ‘space’ and ‘place’, the designer(s)’ intentions and processes in creating phenomenological architecture that seeks a fully emotional and immersive experience will become self-evident.

Therme Vals, Peter Zumthor

 Seek opportunities in the experience of our built and natural environments that exemplify the relationship between spaces, our senses and our memory, and that explore the shared human experiences of transformative architecture and the truths that permeate our collective conscience.

Sources: 

The Science of Human Innovation, Explaining Creativity. R. Keith Sawyer

Chambers For A Memory Palace. Charles Moore and Donlyn Lyndon

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