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SPACES FOR BEING THE ROLE OF ARCHITECTURE IN AN EXISTENTIALLY DISENGAGED SOCIETY Nelli Wahlsten


1. INTRODUCTION

“Postmodern life could be described as a state in which everything beyond our own personal biography seems vague, blurred, and somehow unreal.”1 - Peter Zumthor, ‘Thinking Architecture’ In 2015, we are living in an age where we are able to travel to more places, access more information, and consume more products and services than ever before. We are able to contact and connect with people anywhere in the world, and share our thoughts with millions at the click of a button. From the comfort of our own homes, or from any number of spaces that we inhabit, we can find out about the most recent discovery in astrophysics, buy a new set of cutlery, engage in a debate about worldwide political events, or watch live footage of kittens playing. Yet despite this cornucopia of possibilities the modern city can feel like an alienating and isolating place. Peter Zumthor attributes this to the breaking down of traditions and cultural identities, and the arbitrary world of signs and information that arises out of mass communication;2 David Harvey describes the postmodern city as one that “swims, even wallows, in the fragmentary and the chaotic currents of change as if that is all there is,”3 yet beyond these hypotheses there lies a deeper problem that is intimately related to the very nature of our human existence. This is a problem of detachment from the immediate physical world as we find ourselves more and more engaged with a world of images, ideas and information.4 The phenomenological method is a philosophical approach to understanding the nature of reality by examining our first person experiences of the physical world. By following this train of thought, we find that the way that we exist is through those interactions with that world that make us aware of our own position in a much greater whole. Rather than seeing the self as an isolated mind observing the world outside, the self in this case is tightly interwoven into that world through the sense of physicality that it pervades through. The significance of this in the present discussion is that many of the problems with the postmodern existence that Zumthor, Harvey and others describe have at their core a certain detachment from the physical world, and a focus instead on the visual or intellectual. For example, the arbitrariness of the content put out by the mass media arises out of the fact that information from all over the world is presented to us with great efficiency in a purely (audio)visual way, detached from its physical context and presented in a continuous flow alongside unrelated content without a sense of distance or time. This juxtaposition of varying images and ideas into one continuous flow causes stories and events lose their relevance and significance, developing into a sense of un-reality as a consequence of their one-dimensionality. Despite this growing disconnect between the self and the physical world, and thus our sense of reality, Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006). Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006). 3 David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), p. 44. 4 It should be noted that the term “postmodern” in the context of this study is referring to postmodernity as the condition of society following modernity, associated with constant change, late capitalism and digital means of communication. This is not referring to postmodernism as the late 20th Century movements in art, music and literature. 1 2


there are moments where this connection can be restored, such as through spatial experiences that speak to all of the senses, and root us in a sense of space and time. Good architecture is able to provide meaningful existential experiences for its inhabitants by connecting with the first person sensory experiences that phenomenology is concerned with. However, we can also encounter spatial experiences that only perpetuate the feelings of isolation and detachment that are rife in the modern city, namely spaces that fall victim to the same problems of the dominance of the eye and the intellect, and a detachment from the body as a whole. The aim of this study is to gain an insight into the various ways in which we are becoming detached from the physical world and what this means for our existential disposition, then to investigate how architecture can either counteract or augment this detachment.

WHAT IS “BEING”? - A PHENOMENOLOGICAL ACCOUNT To begin this investigation, we must first establish what is meant by “being” in terms of phenomenology. Since Descartes’ ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’, one of the major struggles in Western philosophy has been the problem of dualism. Having cast away through the Method of Doubt all knowledge that cannot be trusted with certainty, including all knowledge gained through sense experience, Descartes concluded that “I existed without doubt, by the fact that I was persuaded, or indeed by the mere fact that I thought at all.”5 By this he means that, regardless of whether he has been deceived about the existence of his body or the outside world, the fact that he has been deceived or is thinking about being deceived, means that he must exist in some form, and “the proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true, every time I express it or conceive of it in my mind.”6 This was a radical realisation that went on to have a vast effect on much of modern philosophy, however, it left him in a difficult position where he was arguably unable to convincingly prove the existence of anything beyond his own mind, despite his efforts later in the text to prove the existence of God and the physical world which were wrought with philosophical problems.7 Having established the mind as a subjective non-physical thing in contrast to the objective, physical body, the problem of dualism was created: how can the mind affect, and be affected by, the body? Descartes later made a vague suggestion of the pineal gland being the point in the brain where the contact takes place8, however this still failed to offer an explanation as to how something physical can be in contact with the mind. A major breakthrough came about with the school of phenomenology established by Edmund Husserl over 200 years after ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’ was first published. In ‘Cartesian Meditations’, Husserl employs Descartes’ objective of finding a solid foundation on which to build a reformed philosophy. Although he rejects the majority of the ideas posited in Descartes’ ‘Meditations’, he states that transcendental phenomenology could almost be referred to as neo-Cartesianism, as it employs a similar method of doubt, of casting away all knowledge that is not entirely apodictic.9 Accepting Descartes’ idea of the cogito (the self that indubitably exists, by the fact that he is able to conceive of the idea in his mind), Husserl goes on to contemplate the existence of the external world. Although he acknowledges the fact that his sensory experiences could be an illusion or dream, he claims that this is not a sufficient criticism for disproving the existence of the world, for a non-being of the world is inconceivable. The world is, in essence, whatever it is that exists.10 However, in order to follow through with his method of transcendental-phenomenological reduction, which he refers to as epoché,11 he cannot use the world as grounding of his theory so, just like Descartes, he employs the self as his foundation - a self that is prior to the world. He reflects on his own experiences of the world, and points out that, even if he abstains from believing in the existence of the world that is presented to him, it nevertheless continues to appear to him. The fact that he is carrying out the process of abstaining from his belief in it, means that it must exist in some form, for his thinking cannot be directed towards nothing.12 He notes that the same is true of all of his thought processes: they are all directed towards, and presuppose the existence of, the world. By casting doubt across the objective world, he is not left confronting nothing, but he acquires the pure essence of his existence, which is made up of subjective experiences, and everything that is meant by them. Thus, he acquires the universe of “phenomena”, of objects as they exist to him and only him, as this subjective world is the only world that he has direct access to.13 In conclusion, he states, “I must

René Descartes, ‘Meditations’, Discourse on Method and the Meditations, (Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1986), p. 103. René Descartes, ‘Meditations’, p.103. 7 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1988), p.4. 8 René Descartes, The Passions of the Soul, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989), p. 36-37. 9 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 1. 10 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 17-18. 11 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 21. 12 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 19. 13 Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 20-21. 5 6


lose the world by epoché in order to regain it by a universal self-examination,”14 meaning that the way we can seek to gain knowledge about the world is not by attempting to look outside of ourselves and get hold of an objective world, but to introspect and reflect on our own subjective experiences. Therefore, Husserl eliminates the problem of dualism by avoiding it entirely, as he shows that the connection between the mind and the physical world is not the important thing to investigate in order to gain an understanding of the world. This is not to say that the actual world that lies beyond the subjective mind is not important, it is just put aside for the purpose of the phenomenological investigation. Martin Heidegger took this idea further by describing the self as Dasein, or “being there,” meaning that the way that we exist is by being among things in the physical world.15 We are naturally disposed to be engaged with things while having goals in sight, to the extent that we aren’t always aware of it.16 For example, we can stand up and move from one side of a room to the other without directly thinking about the act of walking. Our relationships with the physical world happen before we step back and analyse or categorise those experiences.17 His idea is that there is an osmotic relationship between the self and the physical world, and life should be understood as a series of relationships between things within one whole, rather than as distinct parts.18 At times Heidegger refers directly to spatial experience, stating that “dwelling is the basic character of Being, in keeping with which mortals exist.”19 Thus, Heidegger’s writing has gone on to influence many architects, such as Alvar Aalto and Peter Zumthor who, in a world where decisions are often justified by technical or economic statistics, strive to appeal to the intimate human experience in their work.20 In summary, a phenomenological understanding of “being” is of having relationships with things in the physical world that we comprehend through our direct sensory experience, prior to rational reflection, and those experiences are what ground us in the world. This idea holds relevance in the field of architecture, which deals with our subjective experiences of being in the world, rather than an abstract world of information or facts.

Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, p. 157. Christian Norberg-Schulz, Architecture: Presence, Language, Place, (Milan: Skira, 2000), p. 9. 16 Mark Linsenmayer, Seth Paskin and Wes Alwan, ‘Episode 32: Heidegger: What is “Being”?’, The Partially Examined Life, (2011), http:// www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2011/02/07/episode-32-heidegger-what-is-being/> [accessed 17 November 2014]. 17 Adam Sharr, Heidegger for Architects, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), p.27. 18 Christian Norberg-Schulz, Architecture: Presence, Language, Place, p. 9. 19 Martin Heidegger, ‘Building, Thinking, Dwelling’, Basic Writings, (London: Routledge, 1993) p. 358. 20 Adam Sharr, Heidegger for Architects, p. 2, p. 91. 14 15


2.

QUANTIFYING THE WORLD IN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION Writers on phenomenology have often commented on the inadequacy of science in effectively getting a hold of the world that we live in. Merleau-Ponty notes that by its very nature science cannot hold the same depth of meaning as the world of our sense perceptions, because it is an abstraction of the world, a way for us to categorise and make sense of it, rather than a true grasp of the world as it exists to us.21 To illustrate this point, Norberg-Schulz describes how, at school, we learn about water as a chemical compound formed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, expressed as H2O, rather than as a fascinating substance of enormous flexibility that is considered to be the source of the origin of the world.22 We are so keen on quantifying things and establishing facts that we fail to take into account the deeper meanings of our direct experiences of the world around us. Fundamentally, experimental science strives to remove the filters of our human experience and see the world objectively, as it “really is.” The aim is to find some truth that is not coloured by human emotion or subjective experience. However, this is problematic as everything that we perceive is inevitably seen through the filters of our experience.23 The world of scientific truth is not one that we are able to access directly, in contrast to the subjective world that phenomenologists are interested in. This is not to say that science is not valuable or important to humanity, but when considering the root of our existence as being grounded in our direct relationships with the physical world, science feels far removed from it. The implications of this are described by Ken Robinson in a TED talk about how schools are educating children out of their creative capacities. Despite this disconnection between science and human experience, science and maths are the subjects that, all over the world, are considered to be the most important subjects to be taught at school, with the arts being considered the least important. Even within the arts, art and music tend to take priority over drama and dance, the two subjects that are most connected to the human body and its relationship with the world. The reason for this is that public systems of education as we know it did not exist before the 19th century, and they were created to meet the needs of industrialism, therefore the subjects that were thought to be most useful for work came to be the priority, while creative subjects fell at the wayside.24 Robinson states that, “what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.”25 So, as soon as we begin our education, we start to distance ourselves from the world of our bodies and focus on the intellect and the world of abstract information. Yi-Fu Tuan notes how poets describe emotional moments that lament a lost innocence of childhood, that is related to the immediacy of experience that has yet to be affected by the distancing of reflective thought.26 There is some part of us that yearns for the direct, immersive sensory experiences that we encounter as children, when we are absorbing all the sensory stimuli in our surroundings, with an eagerness

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, (London: Routledge, 1962), p. ix. Christian Norberg-Schulz, Architecture: Presence, Language, Place, p. 20. 23 Colin Davies, Thinking about Architecture, (London: Laurence King, 2011) p.66. 24 Ken Robinson, How Schools Kill Creativity, (2006), <http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity> [accessed 13 February 2015]. 25 Ken Robinson, How Schools Kill Creativity, (2006). 26 Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977), p.20. 21 22


to learn directly about this mysterious world beyond our own minds. This eagerness becomes somewhat diminished when we are brought up in a competitive environment where we are essentially striving to absorb quantitative information in order to pass exams, rather than reflecting on the qualitative experiences that we encounter each day. There are, however, educational methods that exist outside of traditional public education systems that address and value the role of immersive sensory experience in the development of children and young adults. Maria Montessori, the thinker behind the Montessori method, was one of the first educators to stress the importance of the first six years of a child’s life, holding them as even more important than the years spent at university. She described this stage in a child’s life as the “absorbent mind” due to the ease and effortlessness with which children absorb sensory information in their surroundings, which is unmatched in later stages of their development.27 These early sensory experiences were considered by Montessori to be essential in aiding children’s learning at school and university, and consequently in Montessori schools, toddlers are provided with ample opportunities to move around and interact physically with objects.28 The validity of Montessori’s ideology has been supported by recent neuroscience research regarding improved brain function in young children through contact with the environment.29 In a lecture on this topic, Dr. Steven Hughes, a paediatric neuropsychologist and strong advocate of the Montessori method, describes it as the “purest expression of brain-based learning.”30 Many of the practices of the Montessori Method reflect in a direct way how the human brain works. For example, our brains receive more sensory information from our hands than from any other part of the body, so it is predominantly through our hands that our minds discover the world. Maria Montessori herself described the hands as the prehensile organs of the mind, and this is reflected in the way that Montessori children are encouraged to learn through independently handling and manipulating objects, as opposed to passively receiving information as is the case in traditional schools. Moreover, “experimental interactions with the environment” are what neuroscience dictates is required for the brain to mature and become functional, and this is a core principle of the Montessori method. Finally, one of the striking moments of this lecture is where Dr Hughes lists various qualities that were found in studies conducted on Montessori-educated children. As well as qualities such as profound concentration, spontaneous self-discipline, independence and initiative, love of order and more, Hughes mentions that these children were found to have an improved attachment to reality. In the context of this particular discussion it is remarkable to find this connection between physical interactions with the world and an attachment to reality supported by neuroscience research. Another pioneer of alternative education systems that value the role of sensory experiences in young children was Rudolf Steiner. Part of his ideology included the identification of twelve senses of perception, as opposed to the five dictated by conventional science, which he claimed to be inadequate and therefore confusing. Steiner argued that the way in which we organise our disparate sense perceptions received through the twelve senses dictates the extent to which we are participating in the life of things, and he therefore stressed the importance of teaching children about the twelve senses, in order for them to have an overall understanding of the human being. As an example of Steiner’s ideology regarding the senses, he describes the way that we perceive a red circle. Conventionally, we would believe that we understand the red circle via our sense of sight, however, according to Steiner, only the colour red is perceived through sight, while our understanding of the shape of the circle is perceived by calling forth our sense of movement in our subconsciousness. The circle is therefore understood by use of the entire body, which the sense of movement pervades through, rather than just the eye and the mind.31 On that account, the model is already out there for education systems that cultivate learning through the senses and through exploration of the world directly. However, they are yet to fall into the mainstream, perhaps because the adults who make the decisions on where to educate their children have been brought up in the same system that obsesses over tests, data and facts, and view their child’s education as a means to financial success rather than a way for them to profoundly engage with the world around them.32 It may also be considered that the lack of formal structure that allows for each child to have their own personalised learning experience would not be feasible on a large scale because it requires much more resources of time and teachers. However, Hughes argues that this is not the case as children in Montessori schools are provided with tools that encourage them to direct their own learning rather than needing continuous input from teachers,

Barbara Isaacs, Understanding the Montessori Approach: Early Years Education in Practice, (London: Routledge, 2012), p. 1819. 28 Barbara Isaacs, Understanding the Montessori Approach, p.22. 29 Barbara Isaacs, Understanding the Montessori Approach, p.98. 30 Steven Hughes, Good at Doing Things: Montessori Education and Higher Order Cognitive Functions, <https://vimeo. com/15722448> [accessed 3 April 2015]. 31 Gilbert Childs, Steiner Education: In Theory and Practice, (Edinburgh: Floris, 1991), p. 143, p. 147. 32 Barbara Isaacs, Understanding the Montessori Approach, p.18. 27


for example by allowing to check their own work. This, again, reflects the idea of the child as an autonomous and engaged being, discovering the world through their own subjective experience.

IMAGES AND INFORMATION IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

“Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness. “Time” has ceased, “space” has vanished. We now live in a global village... a simultaneous happening”33 - Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore ‘The Medium is the Massage’

While our education systems cultivate the intellect at the cost of our immediate sensory connection to the world, outside the classroom we exist in a culture where the visual takes priority over the other senses. This is not an entirely recent phenomenon - clues of this can be found in our use of language, for example by describing the most intelligent people as “visionaries”, or “seers.”34 However, in ‘The Eyes of the Skin’, Juhani Pallasmaa attributes “the growing experiences of alienation, detachment and solitude in the technological world today”35 to numerous technological advancements in recent years that have allowed for the en-masse reproduction and distribution of images, from television to newspapers and advertising. When we are constantly confronted by an endless flow of images, they start to become depleted of their meaning and become commodities for postponing boredom, favouring instantaneous impact over emotional depth.36 Art historian Brandon Taylor reflects this view by describing television as “the first cultural medium in the whole of history to present the artistic achievements of the past as a stitched-together collage of equi-important and simultaneously existing phenomena, largely divorced from geography and material history and transported to the living rooms and studios of the West in a more or less uninterrupted flow.”37 By having these images of events from all over the world and throughout time directly accessible on our television screens, we feel that we have access to all of these events, but it is just an illusion, as these images are devoid of context, and our sense of time and distance is warped when all of these events are presented to us in a constant flow, with images of war preceded by perfume adverts, preceded by soap operas. In the words of Pallasmaa, “vision separates us from the world whereas the other senses unite us with it.”38 Consumerism has also played a part in shaping our visually biased society. In ‘The Society of the Spectacle’, Guy Debord reflects on how, living in an age of production where we have an excess of capital available to us, we no longer focus on the basic things that we need for survival, but the excessive things that we desire. The nature of postmodern society - the “society of the spectacle” - convinces us that those excessive things are the things that we need. This means that our conception of what we need increases and increases the more we have, always being slightly out of reach, making us strive towards an image of an ideal life beyond our own. The second stage that has followed this shift, is the shift from wanting things, to wanting the appearance of those things. We buy commodities in order to convince ourselves and others that we are living out our ideal selves, and adhering to an image of a certain lifestyle, dictated by the dominant system. We do not seek to purchase the items themselves, but the appearances and illusions that they create - “The spectacle is capital accumulated to the point where it becomes image.”39 We are not directly living in and experiencing the world, rather we are focused on these images that are far removed from true reality. Moreover, our own desires become confused with the desires that society expects of us, detaching the consumer not only from the world but from him/herself. Similar issues also arise with the abundant availability of information as a consequence of the same technological advancements. In an 1846 article attacking the press, Søren Kierkegaard lamented the mass distribution of desituated information, as he believed that this was cultivating detached individuals who have an opinion on everything without having any first hand experience of the matters at hand. The press allows for people to be informed about matters beyond their immediate society and environment, which for many would be seen as a triumph of democracy, however for Kierkegaard this meant the proliferation of an endlessly reflective and ultimately disengaged public who form depthless opinions on these issues based only on

Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage, (London: Penguin, 1967), p. 63. Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage, p. 117. 35 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, (Chichester: Wiley-Academy, 2005), p.19. 36 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, p. 34. 37 Brandon Taylor, Modernism, Postmodernism, Realism: Critical Perspective for Art, (Winchester: Winchester School of Art Press, 1987) p.103-105. 38 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, p. 25. 39 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, (New York: Zone Books, 1994), p.3-6. 40 Søren Kierkegaard, ‘The Present Age’, The Present Age and of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle, (London, Glasgow: Collins, 1962), p. 67. 33 34


rational principles.40 As these people have no direct responsibility towards the situations that they are forming opinions on, they simply reflect on them endlessly without the need for any kind of resolve or any resulting action, thus creating a society of individuals who are lacking in any real passion or commitment. This view may seem extreme today in regards to the press as Kierkegaard knew it, which has become commonplace to us, but it reflects some very current concerns with the Internet in the present day. With its ever-expanding plethora of information and forums in which to make one’s voice heard, the Internet is the ideal breeding ground for the “passionless and reflective” society that Kierkegaard feared.41 In this virtual world that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, anybody can passively find information about a near infinite amount of issues, events and ideas, and anonymously debate about them with equally anonymous individuals. There is no need for these individuals to take responsibility for or act on their opinions, for they are manifesting in an abstract vacuum, detached from the reality of their immediate lived experience. Alec Charles notes how this attitude is exemplified on the Facebook homepage where the empty field in which the user is invited to write a status update asks “What’s on your mind?” rather than, for example, “What are you doing?” Charles states that “the Facebook user becomes a voice devoid of context, one which expresses itself and only itself, a subjectivity defined by and equal to the processes of Facebook use.”42 In essence, the Facebook user is not seen as a sensate being existing in time and space, but an abstracted mind, character or conglomeration of arbitrary thoughts.

THE COMMODIFICATION OF PLACE In ‘Place and Placelessness’, E. Relph reflects on the term ‘kitsch’ as a way of being in industrialised society where many people can afford to own excessive and trivial things, and as a consequence there exists a relationship between man and objects where these banal, unnecessary objects are produced en masse purely for the sake of consumption, and their value is measured only in the hollow measures of cost and appearance.43 This idea is similar to Debord’s idea of excessive consumption, but Relph then applies this thought to the places that we inhabit. He argues that our idea of ‘home’ has been degenerated by the ease with which people are able to travel away from home, and move home, as a consequence of travel being faster and more economical than before. Moreover, the idea of home has been commercialised and exploited by developers who use the term to makes sales in their generic high rise apartment buildings. Relph quotes an estate agent in Toronto that advertises, “If you want a place to call home, call us.”44 When something as personal and intangible as our sense of home becomes yet another marketable commodity, it starts to become depleted of its true meaning, and that sense of place weakens. Relph cites tourism as another key player in the diminishing of our sense of place. In every major city in the world, you cannot avoid the swathes of tourists who go on guided tours in order to tick off the boxes of the sights that they feel they are expected to see when visiting that city. They have little interest in truly experiencing unique places, and are simply adhering to what somebody else has decided are the important things to see.45 Indeed, Heidegger held the same disapproving view of tourists, who he felt visit places without truly seeing them. While Heidegger found existentially meaningful experiences in the places he encountered, most tourists simply experience them as fleeting images.46 Tourism exacerbates a culture where the idea, or the status, of having gone to a place matters as much as, or even more than, the experience of that place in itself. It is for this reason that the majority of the profits of themed restaurants and attractions does not come from admission tickets, food or drinks, but from the branded merchandise that tourists buy to confirm that they have been there and to ostentatiously show their peers.47 The place once again becomes a commodity, a spectacle for the consumption of the hedonistic and laissez-faire consumer. Not only are tourists losing out on their own sense of place, but tourism can be seen to have a devastating effect on the local landscapes and sense of culture that attracts the tourism in the first place. As a particular place gains popularity as a tourist destination, it gradually becomes riddled with architecture that is aimed towards the outsider and the consumer, with a distinct lack of authenticity towards the original character of the place.48 The original inhabitants move away, and the place becomes filled with consumers of Søren Kierkegaard, ‘The Present Age’, The Present Age and of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle, (London, Glasgow: Collins, 1962), p. 72. 42 Alec Charles, Interactivity 2: New Media, Politics and Society, (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014), p. 124. 43 E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, (London: Pion, 1976), p. 82-83. 44 E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, p. 83. 45 E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, p.85. 46 Adam Sharr, Heidegger for Architects, p. 13. 47 John Hannigan, Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis, (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 69. 48 E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, p. 93. 49 John Hannigan, Fantasy City, p. 73. 41


culture arriving from outside, but none of the people who make and shape the culture.49 This type of kitsch is exemplified in garish shopping and entertainment districts that exist across the world in popular tourist cities, that Kenneth Frampton makes a poignant reference to when he writes, “We exonerate the strip, ever fearful to admit that we might have eliminated, once and for all, the possibility of ever being anywhere.”50 By providing endless distractions in the form of shops, bars, restaurants, theatres and casinos, the strip allows people to ignore that fact that what they are experiencing is not a place at all, but a fantasy of what that place is expected to be. Similarly, both Times Square and Piccadilly Circus assert themselves as important urban spaces for gatherings and celebrations with screens displaying images that create a virtual sense of elsewhere, which in turn gives the impression that this space is in the centre of everywhere. However, without the screens both of these spaces would feel quite unremarkable as public spaces. The illusion of a sense of place is created by something that is distinctly detached from the place itself.

TECHNOLOGY AND THE NARROWING DOWN OF SENSORY EXPERIENCE Twenty years ago, if you wanted to find out a piece of information about an unfamiliar subject, you would most likely speak to another person and ask them about it, or make your way to the local library, walk amongst the shelves, pick out a book and flick through the pages with your fingers, find the information and maybe make note of it with a pen and paper. By being in an environment where you’re surrounded by information that’s organised in a physical space, it’s also likely that you’d chance upon another book that seems interesting, and look through that too, and find out something that you didn’t even set out to look for. By physically interacting with the space, your curiosity has the freedom to wander, and the learning process becomes an immersive and open-ended experience. Nowadays, however, due to the popularisation of the Internet, we tend to just look at a screen, press some buttons to type a search term into Google, and have the information presented to us in a purely visual way. The sensory experience is no different to any of the multitude of processes that we carry out on a computer, and we are also limiting ourselves by searching specifically for the particular information that we want to find out, and having it almost immediately accessible. The experience of the search is narrowed down to make it as simple as possible, so that the information itself is the main thing that matters, rather than the experience as a whole. This makes for an impoverished sensory experience as well as limiting the potential for a more wide-reaching learning experience. Although websites such as Amazon include features that make suggestions for further reading in an attempt to replicate this idea of a continuous journey of discovery, this is nevertheless unable to hold the same value as the physical experience. We often don’t know ourselves what we are curious about until we discover it, so it goes without saying that the complexity of our curiosities cannot be reduced to an algorithm that makes suggestions based on simple data. Many other activities and processes have also fallen victim to the same sensory homogenisation by being available online, such as shopping and entertainment. As we have vastly narrowed down the range of sensory experiences that we would normally encounter on a day to day basis, it is not entirely implausible to imagine a future in which the majority of people would go days, weeks, months even, without leaving their home. Even within the home, the items around us that we interact with are being distilled into multifunctional pieces of technology. The items that once occupied our working spaces - notebooks, pens, calendars, clocks, folders, rubbish bins - can all be contained in a laptop computer, which doesn’t even necessitate the desk itself.51 The workspace is no longer defined by the objects of the physical environment, but by the immaterial world of the information stored on one’s computer. The workspace can be anywhere, but at the same time it is nowhere. This is evident in many office buildings of high tech companies where much of the private offices lay empty, whereas we often see people working in aeroplane seats, cafés, hotel rooms and park benches.52 The same thing happens in our pockets. The items we used to keep in them, such as notebooks, ID cards and keychains, are being condensed into smartphones, an example of what William J Mitchell refers to as “instruments of displacement.”53 These are generally intended to extend the range of activities that we can do at any given time, regardless of where we are. As a consequence of this, it could be argued that our physical environment is becoming less and less important to us because places are becoming detached from their purpose, as is the case with the high tech company’s office. Frampton argues that an understanding of “place” calls for a social meaning applied to the physical space. So, what differentiates “space” from “place”

Kenneth Frampton, ‘On Reading Heidegger’, Oppositions 4, (1975), p.1. William J Mitchell, ‘After the Revolution: Instruments of Displacement’, Disappearing Architecture: From Real to Virtual to Quantum, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2009), p.21. 52 William J Mitchell, ‘After the Revolution: Instruments of Displacement’, p.23. 53 William J Mitchell, ‘After the Revolution: Instruments of Displacement’, p.20-21. 50 51


is the fact that a “place” offers a meaningful socio-cultural experience as well as a physical environment in which a person can come into being.54 Surely, as the socio-cultural experiences that we engage in in various places become more homogenous, that sense of place becomes blurred. Kenneth Frampton noted in 1975 that “we exchange our already tenuous hold on the public sphere for the electronic distractions of the private future”.55 This observation feels particularly relevant in the present day, when on every bus ride, in every café, at every concert, we are surrounded by people looking down at their iPhone, scrolling Facebook, watching a video or writing messages, detached from their immediate physical surroundings and engaged in their own virtual world. The place becomes meaningless when in every place we go, we are engaged in an activity that is related to things that are happening elsewhere. In an article about how Facebook use can affect our brains, neuroscientist Susan Greenfield warns us of “a life where the thrill of reporting [...] completely trumps the ongoing experience itself.”56 Although one could worry that we will eventually live in a world where we are all immersed in our personal virtual reality with a total disconnect from our surroundings, fortunately there is evidence to show that this is not the case. Mitchell notes that although development of immersive virtual reality and augmented reality systems was once a popular topic, they were eventually found to have little use outside of the world of simulation and entertainment. While a smartphone gives us a small window into the virtual world, with the physical environment still having some effect on us, immersive virtual reality systems proved to be too intense, too all-encompassing, to engage with realistically on a day to day basis.57

Kenneth Frampton, ‘On Reading Heidegger’, p.3. Kenneth Frampton, ‘On Reading Heidegger’, p.1. 56 Susan Greenfield, ‘Facebook Home Could Change Our Brains’, The Telegraph, 6 April 2013, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ technology/facebook/9975118/ Facebook-Home-could-change-our-brains.html> [accessed 26 February 2015]. 57 William J Mitchell, ‘After the Revolution: Instruments of Displacement’, p.22. 54 55


3.

ARCHITECTURE AND BEING-IN-THE-WORLD To summarise what we have established thus far, the relationships that we have with the physical world are what ground us in reality, and give us an awareness of our existential position. However, in contemporary Western society, these relationships are diminishing due to: • An education system that prioritises facts and data over our direct experiences of the world; • An ocularcentric consumer culture that focuses on images rather than direct lived experience; • The commodification of places that depletes them of their emotional meaning and the quality of the spatial experience, and • Technological advancements that homogenise the sensory experiences of daily life. The question that we must now ask ourselves is how can we continue to maintain our relationship with the physical realm, in order to alleviate the feelings of alienation and detachment that prevail in the society that we have just described? According to Pallasmaa, this is precisely the objective that architecture ought to strive towards: “Architecture articulates the experiences of being-in-the-world and strengthens our sense of reality and self; it does not make us inhabit worlds of mere fabrication and fantasy. [...] The ultimate meaning of any building is beyond architecture; it directs our consciousness back to the world and towards our own sense of self and being.”58 Peter Zumthor echoes this sentiment when he writes, “In a society that celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language.”59 By appealing to all of our senses, architecture can provide us with a meaningful existential experience where we are not simply isolated spectators experiencing a flow of images, but we are fully enveloped in the world. Moreover, that world is not only having an effect on us, but it is reflecting traces of our own being through our interaction with its material qualities. Adam Sharr uses the analogy of a mountain walk in the Lake District to describe this Heideggerian idea of traces of being. He notes how in the bustle of the town of Keswick, people immerse themselves in trivial activities, fussing about where to park the car or whether there’ll be a table spare at the tea room; the types of concerns that Heidegger would claim people use to distract themselves from the difficult questions of the nature of our existence. However, after leaving the town and climbing up the mountain, our senses become more attuned to our surroundings as we remove ourselves from those trivialities and become increasingly aware of our presence among nature. Our own shadow, and the sights and sounds around us, remind us of our own presence, and according to Heidegger, these traces of our being are what allow us to locate our position in a world much greater than ourselves, and in a time span much greater than that of our lives.60 The physicality of architecture, its scale, and its rootedness in a sense of time, are what can allow it to have a similar effect on us. By designing with an awareness of and sensitivity to the phenomenological and existential experience that architecture can offer, architects can create spatial experiences that articulate our presence in the world and our sense of self.

Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, p. 11. Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006), p. 27. 60 Adam Sharr, Heidegger for Architects, p. 8. 58 59


ALIENATING ARCHITECTURE Unfortunately, despite the potential that architecture has to restore our sense of being-in-the-world, modern cities across the world are overrun by buildings that feel utterly devoid of this quality and, on the contrary, instil in us a feeling of detachment from the physical world. Aside from the architecture of tourism mentioned previously that shows a detachment from the local culture and landscape, there is also a more widereaching homogenisation taking place in cities across the globe. With mass communication came the mass spreading of ideas and tastes, which are indifferently adopted with little concern for the existing conditions of the place, creating indistinguishable places and cityscapes across the globe for people with supposedly indistinguishable tastes.61 Whereas vernacular architecture spoke about the skills of the local people and the building materials available in the surrounding landscape, the modern glass and steel high rises across the world today speak of nothing much at all, aside from perhaps the economy, and the whim of a distant professional designing for an unknown consumer. With the loss of local identity comes the loss of a sense of place in which we can ground ourselves, as everywhere we go we are able to encounter the same mediocre spatial experiences. The very ideals of the Modernist movement that sowed the seeds of the generic cityscapes we see today were in themselves detached from both cultural context and the human experience. While the teachings of the Bauhaus aimed to understand the person as a whole body, and the work of architects such as Le Corbusier dealt with ideas about proportion from the human anatomy, these attempts fell short at truly relating to the complexity of human existence, and mostly informed only visual factors.62 Pallasmaa notes that “modernist design at large has housed the intellect and the eye, but it has left the body and the other senses, as well as our memories, imagination and dreams, homeless.”63 This is reified in numerous stories of famous Modernist architects becoming furious at the cosy additions that the inhabitants tried to make to their alienating and unwelcoming white box houses.64 These architects were driven by abstract rationalised ideas rather than the immediate and intimate sensory experience of space, yet nevertheless this decidedly inhuman style was adopted all over the world to shape the cities of today. As well as the homogenisation that sweeps across countries and continents, areas within individual countries and cities are falling victim to the same sense of placelessness. A ubiquitous example of this is the process of suburban sprawl, which wipes out swathes of countryside to facilitate the widespread construction of cookie-cutter housing for families torn between urban and rural life.65 A simultaneous desire for the work and entertainment establishments of the city and the privacy, quiet and escape of the countryside led to the creation of these miscellaneous borderlands, “always defined by what the city and the country are not.”66 In the densely populated working-class urban districts of the past, face-to-face encounters with one’s neighbours would be unavoidable, and there would be a near-constant interaction with others living in the same building, street or local area. However, in the more private and secluded existence of the suburban family home, relations between neighbours occur in a less intimate way, and defining one’s social status and sense of belonging is consummated through the display of one’s home and the acquisition of consumer goods.67 Social critic James Howard Kunstler describes the façade of the conventional American suburban home as “a television broadcasting a show 24/7 called ‘We’re Normal.’”68 The typical manicured lawn and white picket fence of the suburban home represents an aspiration to a certain image or ideal, a striving for conformism or “normality” that belies the conflict and chaos that inevitably occurs within the family home. Once again, we return to the Debordian idea of appearances and illusions, and place as symbol or commodity. Rows upon rows of seemingly identical houses for people with seemingly identical aspirations, with all sorts of different families inside, but of course you’d never tell when walking through these streets. Another example of alienating architecture is the out-of-town shopping centre. An introverted building cut off from its surroundings to form a sanitised simulacrum of an urban centre, the shopping centre is a curious case in that it is very much designed with people in mind. However, it is not the spatial experience itself that the architects are predominantly concerned with, as it is simply a means to an end.69 A number of

E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, p. 92. Christian Norberg-Schulz, Architecture: Presence, Language, Place, p. 9. 63 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, p. 19. 64 Tom Wolfe, From Bauhaus to Our House, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1982), p. 78. 65 Gary Cross, ‘The Suburban Weekend: Perspectives on a Vanishing Twentieth-Century Dream’, Visions of Suburbia, (London: Routledge, 1997), 108-131, p. 109. 66 Roger Silverstone, Visions of Suburbia, (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 5. 67 Gary Cross, ‘The Suburban Weekend’, p. 109 68 James Howard Kunstler, The Ghastly Tragedy of the Suburbs, (2004), <http://www.ted.com/talks/james_howard_kunstler_ dissects_suburbia>, [accessed 2 April 2015]. 69 Margaret Crawford, ‘The World in a Shopping Mall’, Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992), 3-30, p. 13. 61 62


intricate methods are used in the spatial design to firstly lull customers into a state of unreflective numbness and passivity, and secondly to coax those customers into buying as many products as possible. Examples of these methods include limited entrances that make it difficult to leave without passing more shops; orderly processions of window displays along lengthy corridors that give the illusion of endless choice, and generic Muzak and the calming sound of fountains that numb the mind like white noise. The spatial qualities are merely a catalyst for increased consumption, and this “weightless realm” is essentially defined by the commodities that it contains.70 Furthermore, Pallasmaa points out that often in the most technologically advanced places, such as airports and hospitals, we feel the most alienated as they are designed only with the visual in mind, rather than the comfort of the whole body.71 In the interests of function and efficiency, these spaces fail to take into account the complexity of the human experience, and reduce us to alienated individuals, enduring these spaces as a means to an end rather than as meaningful experiences in themselves. Mark Kigwell describes the airport as “the most vivid expression of the consumption/movement imperatives of current urbanism.”72 Just as cities have more or less relinquished their role as centres of production and manufacture to make way for shopping, food and entertainment, the airport is not a meaningful gateway into the city, but a placeless space where shops and restaurants serve as distractions from the physical reality of this alienating environment. It is rare in the present day for travellers to encounter the Industrial Age experience of arriving right in the middle of a city, with the first encounter being of the grandiose surroundings of the central train station. Instead, the traveller arrives in an airport that looks and feels more or less the same as the one where they departed from, and is often several miles away from the city centre itself. The airport terminal is a nebulous portal, detached from the unique qualities of the place that it is intended to connect you to.

SPACES FOR BEING Somewhere between the distinctly non-human architecture that aspires to only an image or idea, and the controlling kind that crudely penetrates one’s headspace to manipulate behaviour, there is a type of architecture that stimulates the senses gently without trying to impose any image or message, or to assert control. A type of space that allows you to simply feel its material qualities in relationship to your own body and mind, softly tapping into your consciousness without overwhelming the senses. A prime example of this can be found in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, a 1960s power station originally designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, transformed into an art gallery by architects Herzog and De Meuron. A space of outstandingly generous proportions, the Turbine Hall arouses a feeling similar to Adam Sharr’s description of the mountain walk discussed previously. The vastness of the space makes you conscious of your own relative size and arouses wonder and awareness, but without dwarfing you. When asked whether he wants people to be taken aback when they enter the building, Jacques Herzog responded, “I always like things that don’t bother me when I don’t want them to. I like things which work, which are well done, which have shadow at the right moment, which are well lit, but where there is much more for those who want to discover it.”73 This alludes to his appreciation of the user of a building as an engaged and inquisitive sensate being, invited to discover the peculiarities of a space through their own experience, rather than as an arbitrary datum onto whom the space is imposed. Moreover, he discusses his distaste for monumentalism, stating that it “doesn’t mean something that is big but having a one and only goal, which is to impress and to manipulate people.”74 The Turbine Hall feels like the antithesis of this goal, with its ramp that gently lowers you into the heart of the space, the humble softness of the pale concrete, and the sheer vastness yet simplicity of the space that feels resolutely public yet allows anybody their own intimate spatial experience. It is a space for movement or stillness, conversation or silence, excitement or calm. It feels as though you could lie down on the floor in deep contemplation without seeming inappropriate. Quite simply, it is a space for Being. On the other side of the Thames, a seemingly divergent yet equally intriguing spatial experience can be had in the gloomy, cave-like confines of Gordon’s Wine Bar. In an unsuspecting side street near Charing Cross, stepping down into the candlelit interior feels as though you are arriving in a space that got left behind as the rest of London hurtled headlong into the modern day. Having operated as a wine bar for over a century, this former seedsmen’s warehouse is deeply rooted in a sense of time - like the Tate Modern, the space gains its character through minimal interference with the physical qualities of the existing space,

Margaret Crawford, ‘The World in a Shopping Mall’, p. 13. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, p. 19. 72 Mark Kigwell, Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City, (New York: Viking, 2008), p. 149. 73 Jacques Herzog, ‘Conversation: Jacques Herzog, Nicholas Serota and Rowan Moore’, 37-57, Rowan Moore and Raymund Ryan, Building Tate Modern, (London: Tate Gallery, 2000), p. 52. 74 Jacques Herzog, ‘Conversation: Jacques Herzog, Nicholas Serota and Rowan Moore’, p. 53. 70 71


while artworks, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia accumulated over the course of its history adorn the walls, illustrating its continuous presence over time. The incredibly intimate volume of the space is in stark contrast to the Turbine Hall, but it is the feeling of history, memory and one’s own position in time that makes this spatial experience remarkable. It calls to mind Peter Zumthor’s observation that “since our feelings and understanding are rooted in the past, our sensuous connections with a building must respect the process of remembering.”75 However, back in the light and open air of the street outside, long rows of tables are set up where throngs of City professionals, tourists and locals convene for drinks, indicating that this place holds great significance in the present as well as having a grounding in its past. It is not simply a relic belonging in a museum, but a living, breathing place that continues to engage with and hold relevance to those experiencing it. While both of these examples involve buildings that have existed in some form for a period of time, bestowing them with a sense of history, that is not to say that new buildings cannot be designed to create similar experiences that play on phenomenological ideas about time and space. It is no coincidence that Peter Zumthor has been mentioned numerous times in this text: as stated previously, his work has been heavily influenced by his interest in the writings of Heidegger, and his thermal baths at Vals display this influence vividly. One of the elements Zumthor paid attention to in this design was the idea of the movement of the body. The aim was to elicit a feeling for strolling through the space, but rather than controlling or manipulating the user of the space through cunning trickery as is the case with the shopping centre, Zumthor sought to seduce people into letting go, to let their mind and body wander. Carefully curated sequences of spaces allow people freedom to drift through or to linger at will, with guidance, orientation and gentle surprises created through the use of light and materials.76 Furthermore, Zumthor exploits to great length the potential for materials and spatial atmospheres to evoke emotions and memories. In an interview on the baths at Vals, he describes the long staircase leading into the baths as conjuring ideas of cinematic glamour and old hotels, of making an entrance into a room. The mahogany in the changing rooms alludes to sensual imagery of ocean liners and even brothels.77 These carefully choreographed spatial experiences encourage the user to identify a sense of place through the process of their bathing rituals, in conjunction with emotions and memories that engage people with themselves as well as the space around them. The meaning found in these spaces is not something that can be created out of abstract reasoning or rationalisation, but only through an acute sensitivity towards sensory experience and the intimate feelings that can be evoked. Although Zumthor outlines various concepts that he considers when attempting to create a certain atmosphere in his work, he admits that the process is very much personal to him and not something that can be defined in a systematic way.78

TO CONCLUDE There is no denying that many of the aforementioned social, cultural and technological conditions of the present day show little signs of slowing down. Indeed, it would be naïve and counterintuitive to cling to a nostalgia for the past, as many of these problems exist as byproducts of much greater effects that have allowed humanity to move forward in previously unprecedented ways. Rather than attempting to counteract the currents of change that affect our existential disposition through a lack of engagement with the physical world, we can strive to form meaningful places out of the spaces that we interact with on a daily basis. This is not something that can be done pragmatically by laying down a set of rules, rather it must stem from a revised approach to design and a mode of thinking that defines the first person subjective human experience as a starting point from which the form of a space can evolve. Architecture ought to acknowledge and address the need for people to have existentially meaningful connections to places, and be sensitive to the levels of meaning to be found in spatial experience. Taking into account the subjectivity of those experiences, it should also allow for people to create their own sense of place by modifying and dwelling in those spaces. To quote E. Relph, “If places matter to us, [...] then we must explore the possibility of developing an approach for making places self- consciously and authentically. The only alternatives are to celebrate and participate in the glorious non-place urban society, or to accept in silence the trivialisation and careless eradication of the significant places of our lives.”79

Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture. Peter Zumthor, Atmospheres, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006), p. 43. 77 Steven Spier, ‘Place, Authorship and the Concrete: Three Conversations with Peter Zumthor’, Arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, Vol. 5, Iss. 1, (March 2001), 15-36, p. 22. 78 Peter Zumthor, Atmospheres, p. 21. 79 E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, p. 147. 75 76


BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Baudrillard, Jean, The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures, (London: SAGE, 1998). Charles, Alec, Interactivity 2: New Media, Politics and Society, (Oxford: Peter Lang AG, 2014). Childs, Gilbert, Steiner Education: In Theory and Practice, (Edinburgh: Floris, 1991). Davies, Colin, Thinking About Architecture: An Introduction to Architectural Theory, (London: Laurence King, 2011). Debord, Guy, The Society of the Spectacle, (New York: Zone Books, 1994). Descartes, René, Discourse on Method and the Meditations, (Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1968). Descartes, René, The Passions of the Soul, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989). Dreyfus, Hubert L., On the Internet, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2001). Flachbart, Georg and Peter Weibel, Disappearing Architecture: From Real to Virtual to Quantum, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2009). Hannigan, John, Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis, (London: Routledge, 1998). Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989). Heidegger, Martin, Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell, (London: Routledge, 1993). Husserl, Edmund, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1988). Husserl, Edmund, The Idea of Phenomenology, (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1990). Isaacs, Barbara, Understanding the Montessori Approach: Early Years Education in Practice, (London: Routledge, 2012). Kierkegaard, Søren, The Present Age and of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle, (London, Glasgow: Collins, 1962). Kigwell, Mark, Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City, (New York: Viking, 2008). Leach, Neil, The Hieroglyphics of Space: Reading and Experiencing the Modern Metropolis, (London: Routledge, 2002). McLuhan, Marshall and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage, (London: Penguin, 1967). Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception, (London: Routledge, 1962). Moore, Rowan and Raymund Ryan, Building Tate Modern, (London: Tate Gallery, 2000). Norberg-Schulz, Christian, Architecture: Presence, Language, Place, (Milan: Skira, 2000). Pallasmaa, Juhani, The Eyes of the Skin, (Chichester: Wiley-Academy, 2005). Raban, Jonathan, Soft City, (London: Picador, 2008). Relph, E., Place and Placelessness, (London: Pion, 1976). Rodaway, Paul, Sensuous Geographies: Body, Sense and Place, (London: Routledge, 1994). Sharr, Adam, Heidegger for Architects, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007). Silverstone, Roger, Visions of Suburbia, (London: Routledge, 1997). Sorkin, Michael, Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992). Taylor, Brandon, Modernism, Postmodernism, Realism: Critical Perspective for Art, (Winchester: Winchester School of Art Press, 1987). Tuan, Yi-Fu, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977). Wolfe, Tom, From Bauhaus to Our House, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1982). Zumthor, Peter, Atmospheres, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006). Zumthor, Peter, Thinking Architecture, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006).

ARTICLES Bargh, John A. and Katelyn Y.A. McKenna, ‘The Internet and Social Life’, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 55, (2004), 573-590. Burton, Dawn, ‘Postmodernism, Social Relations and Remote Shopping’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 6, Iss. 7/8, (2002), 792-810. Chayka, Kyle, ‘The Internet of Places’, Protein Journal, Issue 14, (18 February 2015), <https://www.prote.in/en/ briefings/ the-internet-of-places>.


Cummings, Jonathon N., Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut, ‘The Quality of Online Social Relationships’, Communications of the ACM, No. 7, Vol. 45, (July 2002), 103-108. Frampton, Kenneth, ‘On Reading Heidegger’, Oppositions 4, (1975) 1-4. Greenfield, Susan, ’Facebook Home Could Change Our Brains’, The Telegraph, 6 April 2013, <http:// www. telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/9975118/Facebook-Home-could-change-our-brains.html>. Kraut R., M. Patterson, V. Lundmark, S. Kiesler, T. Mukophadhyay and W. Scherlis, ‘Internet Paradox: A Social Technology that Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-being?” American Psychologist, No. 9, Vol. 53, (1998), 1017-1031. Siibak, Andra, ‘Constructing the Self Through the Photo Selection: Visual Impression Management on Social Networking Websites’, Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, (2009). Spier, Steven, ‘Place, Authorship and the Concrete: Three Conversations with Peter Zumthor’, Arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, Vol. 5, Iss. 1, (March 2001), 15-36.

PODCASTS Linsenmayer, Mark, Seth Paskin and Wes Alwan, ‘Episode 31: Husserl’s Phenomenology: Dicussing Descartes’ Meditations’, The Partially Examined Life, (2011), <http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2011/01/10/episode31-husserls- phenomenology/>. Linsenmayer, Mark, Seth Paskin and Wes Alwan, ‘Episode 32: Heidegger: What is “Being”?’, The Partially Examined Life, (2011), <http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2011/02/07/episode-32-heidegger-what-isbeing/>.

RECORDED LECTURES Howard-Kunstler, James, The Ghastly Tragedy of the Suburbs, (2004), <http://www.ted.com/talks/ james_ howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia>. Hughes, Steven, Good at Doing Things: Montessori Education and Higher Order Cognitive Functions, <https:// vimeo.com/15722448>. Robinson, Ken, How Schools Kill Creativity, (2006), <www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_ creativity>.

Spaces for Being: The Role of Architecture in an Existentially Disengaged Society  

Dissertation exploring how the built environment affects our existential disposition by appealing to our intimate subjective experiences of...

Spaces for Being: The Role of Architecture in an Existentially Disengaged Society  

Dissertation exploring how the built environment affects our existential disposition by appealing to our intimate subjective experiences of...

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