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Booklist: Architectural Phenomenology

Here at Show It Better, we love to read, especially when we take a break off from architecture, we just sit back, drink a cup of coffee and read. We have made some posts about books; graphic design books, theory of architecture books. This time around, we have our new phenomenology booklist section. 

Phenomenology in architecture can be understood as a discursive and realist attempt to understand and embody the philosophical insights of phenomenology. The phenomenology of architecture is the philosophical study of architecture. Read more here

Steven Holl, lucidly explicates the importance of intuition in the construction and experience of built space. Holl explains his search for phenomenological experience thus: “To open architecture to questions of perception, we must suspend disbelief, disengage the rational half of the mind, and simply play and explore. Reason and skepticism must yield to a horizon of discovery.”

It asks the far-reaching question why, when there are five senses, has one single sense – sight – become so predominant in architectural culture and design? This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking, its origins and its relationship to the wider context of Nordic and European thought, past and present. 

This lyrical journey takes as its premise the emergence of the poetic image and finds an ideal metaphor in the intimate spaces of our homes. No space is too vast or too small to be filled by our thoughts and our reveries. In Bachelard’s enchanting spaces, “We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”

The text presents personal reflections on topics as diverse as architecture and its fittings, crafts, finishes, jade, food, cosmetics and mono no aware (the art of impermanence). Tanizaki explores in close description the use of space in buildings, lacquerware by candlelight, monastery toilets and women in the dark of a brothel. The essay acts as “a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age”.

Thinking Architecture has been expanded to include two new essays: “Architecture and Landscape” and “The Leis Houses.” “Architecture and Landscape” deals with the relationship between the structure and its surroundings, with the secret of the successful placement and topographical integration of architecture. In “The Leis Houses” Peter Zumthor describes the genesis of two wooden houses in the town of Leis in the Swiss canton of Graubunden, thus thematizing the special challenge of integrating contemporary architecture into a traditional architectural context.

The volume is organized in a series of chapters based on key architectural themesspace, time, matter, gravity, light, silence, dwelling, ritual, memory, landscape, and place–with an introductory essay for each chapter that includes a wide variety of historical examples from around the world followed by more in depth analyses of key buildings that further exemplify the theme of a particular chapter

Have you read any of these books? Which books on phenomenology have you read that you recommend? 

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