Message - Re: THESIS - architectural form,space and human psychology

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Posted by  Jim on July 08, 2003 at 06:45:13:

In Reply to:  THESIS - architectural form,space and human psychology posted by mainak ghosh on July 05, 2003 at 11:26:26:

Who was it that said that architecture should be an "enobling" experience? Well, that it should be, and more. Of course, the final effect of any building devolves directly upon its purpose in existance. We rightly expect a summer cottage to have a much different effect upon us than would the same person's town house or mansion. Likewise, a government building should display solidity and the dignity of the state, as opposed to a nightclub or restaurant which may be much more frivilous in its effort to be novel. If there is a 'formula' involved here, I fail to see it, and doubt that Artistry can ever be reduced to mathematical equivalents, regardless of the inroads that engineering has made upon art in architecture.

Cathedrals, mosques, and most other large churches were deliberately designed to not only house many congregants, but also to elevate the ceiling to such height that will inspire, if not awe, the people there, and thus, a definite psychological aspect of the design does exist. Years ago, the building of another space for large crowds, theatres, involved the calculated use of progressive spaces of first lesser height (the entry) to greater height (the 'Grande Lobby') to again lesser height (the foyers or promenades -- passageways to the seats) and finally the auditorium with a very high ceiling both for atmospheric reasons and for the total effect of inducing a feeling of grandeur and opulence and thus consequent contentment and pleasure. Thus, psychology does indeed enter the arena of architecture, but not due to any real formula.

While most architects today are devotees of some form of modernism (if only because that is what is preached as a virtual 'religion' in today's schools and because it is far cheaper to design in that 'theme'), it is actually the 'period', ornamented buildings which evoke the more discernable response in an individual. The desire inate to humans for a more complex and thus stimulating environment may be called a 'formula' in the most stretched meaning of the word to describe the predictably warmer reaction of people to such surroundings than to the 'sterile' surroundings of most cost-effective modernism found around us today. As Robert Venturi put it so well: "Less is a bore." Don't look for formulas to impress the cold hearted ones in the schools, but use your own natural inner sense of warmth in design (usually found on paper rather than computers which encourage us to think like machines) to achieve a "formula" which will endear you to your clients, and help to pay the bills through projects completed rather than merely thought of in printouts by machines. If there is a 'formula' in architecture, it is to proclaim and encourage humanity and the human scale and sensitivities, rather than dream of glass tower monuments and the like because they bring in lots of money withtout any regard to humanity as a whole.

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