We often fascinate by the unique looking of architecture as it was the one that attract our eyes. People just pass by the building everyday as merely to be looked at. As if the buildings around us only function as it is. We need to appreciate and have an enjoyable experience inside space. Why is it necessary? It is because we are always surrounded by buildings every day, and we will always go in and out of spaces. We cannot escape from it. Hence, if we realise that buildings actually already do things to us. It moulds our behaviour in spaces. The spatial elements whether it is a confined or an open space, too bright or too dark, the shape itself, the distance, height, etc.
“As architect we do not primarily design buildings as physical objects, but the images and feelings of the people who live in them.” (Juhani Pallasmaa)
We need to transform our vision images into spatial experience with our entire body experience. Beside our physical appearance in space, we also have to have some knowledge and practice in perceiving the space to have an enjoyable experience inside space.
Building is a symbol of human habitation. We made spaces where we can live in to protect ourselves from any danger. As a human, we want to keep ourselves safe and wall become our defence equipments from cold, heat, wind, rain, enemies, wild beasts, etc. That is why people always think and research on how to develop their ‘habitation’ to become more steady/stronger. They began to build it started from grass house until the using of bricks or concrete which are sturdier or firm materials.
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Basically, in pre-historic times, they used cliffs or caves as their habitation to keep them safe from bad weather and wild beasts. It was not a manmade structure, but it was already ‘there’ and it was not positioned with purpose, but placed in natural way. Then as the time pass by, they felt that they could not just stay in one place, sometimes they needed to move because of some reasons, and it seemed very hard for them to always find a place like cliffs or caves to live in every new area they moved on. So people started to think if they can built it by themselves. They gathered all the materials that they could find at that time and the first house was built by grass and wood. It was a quite strong enough building, because underneath the grass thatch there was a firm framework of long wooden poles that ran across the poles the building.
As they thought by using only grass and wood not strong enough, so they developed the material and then built it with stone that is stronger. The first stone walls were just built by stones without any mortar that binds them together, which is called dry-stone/dykes. It is quite stable because the walls are held up by the interlocking of the stones. Soon After that mud-brick and adobe-brick were found as material to build walls by using mud mixed or clay to bind them together, make it more firm or sturdy as a building.
Therefore, the function of a buildings itself also develop from each time to time. Last time, human made structure based on their needs of security and protection. Nevertheless nowadays not only for the protection but also how we can create interaction and experience inside the space itself. At first building was made as the shelter of human being to keep safety from outside wild space, but now many architects also explore on how we can have interaction of outside space from inside visually and physically. I will further explain on how architects shaping their forms in order to give us different experience inside and control the feeling and emotions of the space users.
B. How human perceive through spaces
1. Multi-sensory experience
a. Eyes for seeing the physical aspects (forms) and light
b. Ears for hearing sound
c. Skin for touching the surface
2. Human psychology and emotional feelings
3. Human behaviour inside space
4. Reflection: Experience of space create memory to people
Different people will have different psychological and emotional responds in spaces. As I mention before, people need some knowledge and practice in perceiving the space beside their physical appearance only. One who has this appreciation will have the maximum enjoyment through spaces. We experience the space not just by visual appreciation, but how about the sound, smell, surface that surround us. It is true that the visual image will have the immediate through our mind, but then what we perceive after that is more important.
Response to the architectural value is a complex term. There are three psychological stages of human in response to space: perception, cognition and spatial behavior. Perception of space refers to the awareness of people in perceiving the space through their five senses. Cognition is the thinking process after they sense the space. People may think, remember, or evaluate the information that they received. Then from the perception and cognition, people may response and react to the space.
When we are inside a space and hear the sound of water falling that is outside, it might create a relaxing feeling to us. How the sound of train perceive to our mind and bring back memories, while we sitting in a café. How we imagine of a bakery shop when we smell something sweet outside. How we experienced cold or warmth in space and the roughness of surface that we felt.
We can create memory that reflects from what we experience in a building. Mostly the unique design will stay longer in our mind, the one that have a great impact to our senses. It may be a good or bad experience, but the important part is what reflects in our mind. Therefore, it is a designer’s task to create great experiences in spaces that they designed. Our mind can sense a relation between the form that is outside the space and inside the space. If the exterior experience is already great, people will have the same or greater expectation of experience inside the space.
C. Architecture as play with form
1. How ideas gain shape
a. Visually translation (case study)
2. Visual expressions: a form of free artistic expression
Art is a free visual expression from the artist. It can be a paintings, sculpture, music composition, etc. Architecture also an artist in which they are freely expression their passion in forming the space. Form is the basic elements of architecture. The buildings that we see every day are actually the visual expression of architects and designers. They can get the ideas from dealing with the site context and cultural background and then translate it into form and space. Shaping the form that has the function, while also considering the experience inside the space for the users.
Illustration 5 & 6: The Stretto House by Steven Holl
In this point, I will talk about Steven Holl’s work, which is the Stretto House, about how he derived his ideas into forms. At first he examine the site, where he found a landscape of a river that branch out become three ponds, which each contained with a small wall, and causing a constant of murmuring sound. Then he approach one of his student that have the musical background. He asked whether there is any musical composition that arranged in a parallel way similar to the streaming of water. Then he was told about the ‘Stretto’ form where musical aspects overlap with each other in one composition. So he started to do further research and study on this musical composition. He realized that ‘Stretto’ has four different parts. It characterised by overlapping the element of music. Then this idea brings him to divide the space inside into four sections in harmonious way, as if one space is related and important to the other space. How each levels overlaps with other levels, following the flow of the Stretto music. How he use the materials in response to the site. Therefore, in this case study Steven Holl gave us idea on how he, as an architect, senses and understanding the site to gain the idea which leads him in playing with forms in space. “It is a pleasure of experimenting architecture with spatial and light sequences, textures, smells, and sounds.” (Steven Holl)
D. Usage of different shape inside space
1. Different type of forms
a. Basic form
b. Abstract form
2. Forms do things to you
a. How the geometry create feeling in space
b. Sensitivity to scale and proportion
c. Different types of forms play different atmosphere and ambience in space
3. Security and togetherness or isolation and alone
Our life is surrounded by forms. All buildings around us have different forms with one another. All surfaces of a form come together and define a shape and volume. Shape is the outline of a configuration of a volumetric form. Form is the mass that define object in space. Form cannot exist without space. Form helps us to understand how to handle the space. Space constantly encompasses our present. Through the volume of space, we sense the security inside, interact with each other, and hear sounds of water that perceive through our ears, which develop many different feeling and emotion.
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In architecture, we are concerned with the elements if floor, wall and ceiling surface that enclose the space. It is an artificial construction. It is also related on how we shape and place the opening within all those elements and the contours of the building form. All of the elements come in single parts which must be joined together creating architecture.
“To me, the presence of certain buildings has something secret about it.” (Zumthor 2006, p.17)
Architecture is not only mere play with form, but it also actively shapes human behavior. Without we realize it, buildings actually do things to us and affect our personal feeling and psychology inside. Different type of forms will play different atmosphere and ambience in space. The consideration to scale and proportion in space is also one of important issue in creating space. Proportion is the relation of sizes (width, length, depth, height) of a single object. Scale is our judgment of size of something in relation to something else. It is necessary that new building should embrace the quality that can enter into a meaningful spatial experience.
E. Approaches to shape people’s feeling inside spaces
1. Shaping the forms of architecture
Every architect has their own style and way in expressing their form of architecture. Some may do it response to nature that become organic shapes, some may refer to the site context or even some can do it in simplified way of designing which also can give greater impact to the users. How all of this form creates different impact for people? How one building is more interesting than the other?
For the first impact, we often judge it based on the visual appearance, the shape of the building itself. The evolution of forms continues from time to time. From the one that follow the function, seems to be in basic geometry shapes which create a simplistic way of representing the architecture. Until the evolution of the abstract form become architectural. Zaha Hadid is one of contemporary architect that has a good way in representing form of architecture on her own way. She explores the rhythm of every day people’s life, observes her environment, and finds what is lacking in the construction of our modern world. She uses that information as the starting point for her explorations which develop into an unknown territory that leads to her angular point. She believes that we can use our resources, including ourselves, more efficiently in order to create the maximum amount of space and value to it. She said that we need to open our eyes, our ears and our minds in the reality of our existence. We see only what our eyes have been trained to perceive. We need to look at our world in a fresh way, and then we can change the world. She transforms our perception into her representations of form that we actually have created. She does not invent new forms of architecture, she just show us a world in a new way.
2. From inside to outside
a. Crossing boundary between exterior and interior
b. Link with landscape visually and physically
Walls divide. They have two sides, physically and metaphorically. They compress and make tangible distance between things by making a solid barrier that provides security and separation. They extend the territory of what they contain to a precise boundary, and set limits to what is inside and what is outside. (Unwin, 2000, p. 26)
Each material gave us different feeling when we inside the space itself. For instance, like Tadao Ando that he mainly use concrete wall as his way of architecture. Concrete wall may give us the feeling more in closed space because it seems setting a limit or boundary when we are inside the space. We will have negative feelings towards the space and it may cause claustrophobic. But Ando arrange his concrete wall in such a way at a certain intervals, which he always creates openings where lights can come through that give new objective feelings. “A building is enriched if these interstices are structured according to a clear design and made meaningful as architectural spaces.” (Dalco 1995, p. 449)
Illustration 7 & 8: The Church of the Light by Tadao Ando
Ando also keeping the relationship between human and natures, he is not only creating an opening where the lights can come through but he also think about how wind and water or rain give other natural feelings and variety to life. Without sunlight, the space sometimes can fade at one moment, and at the next time sunlight can shine brightly into the opening of the space. So, here we will feel as if the relationship between human and nature are working together as a team. As in his work of the Church of Light, where he creates opening in the shape of a cross, admitting the brilliant light coming into the chapel with the motion of the sun, while also gives an amazing sense of spiritual calm.
Wall is solid barrier that provides protection and separation (Unwin, 2000, p. 26).
Wall frames our existences, and we often think as it is a hindrance for us. But Toyo Ito creates new spaces that are borderless, which his philosophy is ‘blurring boundary’. So he wants to give other way of feelings to the wall which is light and transparent.
Ito’s architecture aspires to lightness. However, he is not simply trying to make building as thing ‘light’. He is endowing thing with ‘light’ characteristics in order to make ‘field of flow’ ‘light’ places. The result, aesthetically speaking, is architecture that generates places where people can experience (Hara, 2001, p. 9).
Illustration 9: Sendai Mediatheque by Toyo Ito
In Sendai Mediatheque, the whole façade was made with glass, and along this main facade the six floor slabs seem to be floating in the mid-air within the space connected only by thirteen steel tube columns that rise up from ground floor to roof, which giving the feeling of ‘lightness’. Its transparent façade allowing people can see through what is happening inside. The intention here is to bring inside and outside closer by minimizing the barriers with the transparency glass façade. So in this particular way, the function of wall as partition now feels in different way. The wall is still there and dividing the spaces, but we will feel as if we are in one space because of the transparency of the glass wall.
F. How will the people cope with the new way of experiencing spaces without cater to visual images alone?
1. The obstacles that people may face in experiencing the space
a. The awareness of people inside the space
b. The appreciation of architecture
2. A way of looking at things
a. Respond human to space and form
“A work of art is a reality only when it is experienced, and experiencing a work of art means recreating its dimension feeling.” (Juhani Pallasmaa)
Buildings around us are simply present to be there. We often do not pay more attention to them. It gives certain impression and creates different reaction to people. Experiencing space seems to be a private dialogue between the creator of the space and the person inside the space. The building is the expression of the architect, the problem is whether the person aware of the message that the architect transfer. All buildings will just stay still as where they are built. Architect task is how to give this ‘still’ form an impact and good expectations. Every building is built for specific function in specific place and for a specific society. (Zumthor 2006, p.27)
To appreciate the architect’s work demand the creativity of the space users. People need to transform their visual experiences into spatial experience with their entire body experience. They have to practice and let go all their feeling and emotion in space. Perceiving the space and enjoy the experience. People may appreciate the building by its colour, texture, shape, materials and size. Architecture is a personal enjoyable and necessarily experience. If people can experience space and form enjoyably, then the architecture happens.
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