Transient Crossings - Embodiment in the Everyday
Embodied experience is defined by the way we understand, engage with and act in the world. However, as Aya Peri-Bader suggests, architecture is often only experienced in a state of distraction; the familiarity of place causes us to act in a prescribed way, rarely thinking about it or noticing it. Today it could be said that architecture is becoming an art of the printed image resulting from what Stephen Holl calls the “hurried eye of the camera”. The gaze itself tends to flatten into a picture and lose its “plasticity” (Holl, 2006, 29). Perez-Gomez explains that the image has replaced palpable experience: we become spectators in a world mediated by images, rather than being in the world in an embodied sense. This poses an opportunity for a design investigation that provokes an engagement with the built environment and has the potential to invigorate and enliven our bodily experience of space.
Therefore this design investigation asks how embodied experience of space can be intensified through the articulation of light, form and materiality. This inherently addresses the concept of the body in architecture as a form of cognitive, experiential, or active perception. The ability to evoke an awareness of our spatial environment through bodily engagement has the potential to elevate everyday experience of what may ordinarily be considered banal, distracted, or forgotten experiences.
In the book Intertwining, Holl proposes that the interlacing of form, space and light can elevate the everyday, embodied experience of architecture (Holl, 1996, 11). More importantly there is a phenomenon that comes when these qualities are associated to specific sites, programs, and architectures. This considered articulation of spatial environments with attention to tactile materiality can reintroduce crucial, intrinsic meanings and values to human experience (Holl, 1996, 11).
This investigation is grounded in site and programme. It aims to show how site and programme can be vehicles to research notions of embodiment, through generative design methods. The Wellington site of the Gordon Wilson Flats is a testing ground for this exploration. By extending the adjacent university campus and creating a connection to the city centre, this site enables an everyday programme that addresses both public and private interconnecting spaces. This provides opportunity to explore embodiment as part of a journey and thoroughfare through a building or landscape. Thus the spatial investigation can be applied in both an interior and exterior programme where architecture, landscape and urban design all interlink. Therefore, the human experience also shifts from a singular interaction to a progressive experience through a greater urban landscape. More so, the notions of embodiment query more than simply the human experience, but speculate on the non-human relationships between the landscape, the architecture, and its materiality.