Softspace:The stuff between, in & around
by Sean Lally + Jessica Young

That architecture has often traditionally been preoccupied with the ‘hard’ (structure, forces, geometries of form), letting the ‘soft’ (qualitative environments, mood, atmosphere) become secondary, or residual, is a fairly obvious fact. Looking back, we find endless variations on form defined through structure and envelopes, often ignoring what’s in between these fixed elements. This is due in some part to techniques of representations, which have reinforced pervasive (and congenital) notions of both how to make architectural space and what constitutes architectural space. These surfaces and structures, envelopes and skins, were considered to be the material pieces of architecture (yet are no longer the only elements that are definable and measurable), allowing space to be the ‘stuff’ that’s left one between them-or, more simply stated, space is whatever form is not. Further, the distinction between the two has evolved into another simple opposition: form occupies the material, while space occupies the immaterial realm of design. This space, however, has always been imbued with endless qualities, behaviors, and effects, whether intentional or not – air, gas, fire, sound, odors, magnetic forces, electricity and electronics to name a few – which are, within the realm of ‘soft space’ distinctly material in nature. At the end of the day, isn’t space the ‘stuff’ that we’re after, anyway?

The Phenomena of the Non-Visual:
by Michelle Addington

Orthographic projection produced the objectified surface – fixed Cartesian space and endlessly reproducible. What cannot be easily reproduced is the perception of experience of the environment that is always transient, always unique. Defining the surface does not define the environment. We traditionally design to create an image or sequence of images rather than a visual response; we design to replicate interior conditions rather than for a thermal experience. Perception becomes incidental, and yet we presume to design experience through the avatar of the surface. A discussion about light in an architectural work will focus on the materials and their placement. Any discussion about heat will revolve around the facade. When phenomena are foregrounded, they are described as the preternatural results of carefully designed architectural artifacts. Essentially, we have assigned environment causality to an image on a picture plane.
This objectification of the surface as both progenitor and the representative frame of environmental phenomena keeps us tautologically bound to a Renaissance definition of space even while our surface forms have become progressively articulated and non-orthogonal. Escaping this bind requires that we subordinate the hegemony of the picture-plane representation, and begin to understand the surface as fluid and contingent rather than fixed and constituent. Only then can we begin to apply the unprecedented array of tools now available, which allows for the representation of phenomenological behavior.


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Categories: Literature, Theory


studying: architecture design


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