The odd, the infinite, the possible. Architecture, just like music, can be seen as an open system. One in which large networks of components with complex rules of operation and no central control accumulate and give rise to an intricate collective behaviour, information processing, and adaptation through evolution. Complexity emerges in the course of evolution. The built environment is constructed to solve practical problems. But is this the only scope of architecture? Doesn’t it expand on multiple dimensions? Doesn’t it give rise to movement and fabricates the mode of our existence?
Time and Space
Buildings play a role in bridging the distant past to the recent. As a material of art, architecture is filled with memory, rooted in all of our senses. It moves us and our spirit, unleashing experiences, sensations, and data. It builds upon a spatial memory accrued from one generation to another and serves as a cultural abode for each living organism. Cultural memories are being carried in the built environment, building towards an architecture of the past, which grows differently from culture to culture, age to age, and individual to individual. Form and matter change together with one’s experience and knowledge. Thus, the meaning of the architectural space shifts over time, and it acquires various interpretations from one century to another. Humans without architecture would be humans without memory, culture, or stories.
From the great pyramids of ancient Egypt to vernacular dwellings and modern buildings, the built environment has been caught up in an ever-changing way of life that evolves in unison with the inhabitant. The architectural space is born when a building and a culture meet and connect in a way that buildings come alive and long-term relationships emerge.
Modes of Existence
It is believed that the terrain is always there, waiting to be observed, experienced, and used by any living entity. Birds, insects, vertebrates, and humans: all contribute to the constitution of territory and fabrication of space. This process of territorialization entails the emergence of sensations, from which the extraction of rhythms, textures, tones, weight, and colouring may happen.
The built environment as a dwelling can represent a Domus for those who compose and design. Everyone designs. Designing is what living beings do. As Le Corbusier (1926, p. 55) puts it, architecture stands at ‘the very origins of humanity’, being tangibly and intuitively perceived ‘as a product of human instinct’. As a complex body, the architectural space opens up an embodied spatial experience through materials, time, and configuration imbued with stories and their translations. These stories appear to us in a steadily growing collection and are building up the walls of our dwellings.
Culture, manifesting in the form of these stories, lingers on the four walls of the building, covering cracks and concealing the unpredictable peril of collapse. It dresses their nakedness and isolates Man from the formless chaos that springs in the outside world. What would happen if one of the walls would be knocked down and replaced with an open window? Would Man still seek to fill in the space between the walls and re-design the secret place of their existence?
An infinite plane of composition, construction, and compilation of the Earth’s space, the architectural landscape materialises into a territory-house system that becomes charged with meaning. Whenever beings venture out into the world, they seek to create a home. A space for shelter, protection, safety, intimacy, and secrecy. Both material and immaterial become ingrained in a way that becomes a part of who we are and we carry them around with us to feel at home, to territorialize and manipulate the unknown or uncanny ground.
A territory is constructed when properties develop their resonances and repetition or reconstruction forms; thus, the territory becomes a Spatio-temporal configuration of these rhythms that come together in the process of territorialization and environmental manipulation. Through its forms of expression, architecture designs and constructs frames that separate. These frames separate, arrest and cut into the space or milieu. Hence, the creation of a structure or plane of composition emerges, where bodies are affected. This fabrication of frames represents an architectural gesture that constitutes the inside and the outside, interior, and landscape, chaos and order, house and territory (Grosz & Grosz, 2008).
Poetics of Space
Architectural space frames our existence, and our existence frames the architectural space. Architecture can be a gesture, rhythm, body, text, or mode of existence – a spatial form of storytelling shaped by meaningful materials, time, and configuration; it mediates strong relations between humans and architecture, thus undermining any isolation that could stand between them. The built environment lives and moves with us. It assembles experience and opens to a myriad of possibilities. In the end, architecture is a living thing, located in the realm of rhythms, cycles, flows, seasons of nature, and both human and nonhuman life. As abstract as a living form, the architectural space encompasses the lives and flows of humans, ecology of nonhumans, and the stories of the built environment.
Bachelard, G. (2014). The poetics of space. Penguin.
Corbusier, L. (1977). Vers une architecture (Vol. 1). Arthaud.
Grosz, E. A., & Grosz, E. (2008). Chaos, territory, art: Deleuze and the framing of the earth. Columbia University Press.
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