Architectural Theory ATV100
10 August 2018
Lecturer: Mr. J Basson
Table of content
1. Defining Phenomenology- character
2. Phenomenology of place, Noberg-Schultz: character archetypes in natural and man made environment.
3. Conclusion ?
As humans we spend majority of our lives just “living”. Living in the sense that we have developed a stagnant way of thinking and a routine where we simply accept reality with almost no question or analysis. The study of phenomenology allows us then to “bracket” off these preconceived ideas of objects and start to ask questions to understand our place in relation to the world. This makes this study very enriching and necessary in understanding our coexistence with our surroundings. It makes us aware of our lives by making inquire into and understand the things we’ve taken for granted
Phenomenology can be described in several ways, the simplest way being the literal study of “phenomenon”, which is the object of someone’s perceptions of things. It can then become complex by being divided into two comprehensions; the discipline side of philosophy or the movement of philosophical history. This then allows phenomenology to be linked to other fields which allows for a broader understanding through the study of knowledge, of being, and of what is right and wrong.
The actual phenome logical historical movement goes back to the 20th century during the time of enlightenment, however today it is restricted to predominantly sensory qualities. When looking at past philosophers, traditionally phenomenology is quite varied such as really looking into the meaning of for example objects, events, tools, structures etc.
Edmund Husserl’s, who is the godfather of phenomenology, a German philosopher first made his breakthrough in the early 20th century. His discovery was a break from the accepted “cartesian system”. He explained that man needed to have an “understanding of the outside world as it is interpreted by and through human consciousness”. Basically, he felt that as people there was a dire need to understand coexistence in relation to the world and environment.
He explored several ways in which this would be possible, such as the “bracketing off” and “intentionality”. Bracketing off requiring one to get rid of preconceived ideas and bias that might interfere with the phenomenon, while intentionality looked at guiding ones focus to describe realities. These would then help in getting a more in depth understanding of reality.
Martin Heidegger did argue though that an object should not simply be captured and studied on its own but should always being in context. That objects should not and must not be separated from the surroundings as they played a vital role in the spirit of place. He the concluded that reality and consciousness are co-creations and that the relationship and actions on each other should be understood. Phenomenology this way explores a few states of consciousness.
Consciousness is seen as an intentional in two ways, that it is actional (is always doing something) and that is it referential (it is always pointing to something). This understanding then links to our experience to the understand the core ideas of phenomenology. This is when we start to notice how we are experiencing things, we then see them differently from how we did before while we took them for granted. For example, a minute of time is just a minute of time, regardless of how and where you spend it, this is looking at time in a natural sight. Phenomenology then says a moment in time depends on how you experience it. Just like how when you’re exited time goes quicker but goes slower when you’re bored. These different experiences then make the meaning of time vary. This also applies to majority if things too.
Husserl’s breakthrough came with several other philosophers investigating phenomenology. Philosophers such as Heidegger who also looked at the phenomenology of place. He explained that the character of a place is up to the experiences of the people that are occupying there, such as the smell cam create a certain mood. These experiences depend on the activities of those people. This then ties in with his argument of how the relation between the context and people and how each place seems to be unique to the engagements taking place there. This helps to understand that we are not just interdependent but that our very existence is pioneered by the laces we occupy, and we therefore make up those places. An example is how our very evolution is in response to the environment.
This discovery of phenomenology had been focusing on the relation with people and realty until Norwegian Architect and theorist, Christian Noberg Schultz linked the thinking of Martin Heidegger to the built environment filed. He was influenced by philosophical and theoretical settings. He looked how one saw places by looking at them(perceive) and how phycology influenced architecture. He wanted to understand how places were shaped the way they were and what meaning and program they had.
Since Architects are the creators he felt as though there was a lack of cultural and historical insight done by them and a lack of sociological and phycological understand towards the built environment and its influence on people lives. He then asked himself several questions, one of them being why do certain building from certain periods took a form? He needed to understand the relation between phenomenology and how we perceived objects influenced architecture. He focused on how people reacted physiologically to their surroundings and mostly how people shaped their dwellings and what they understood as place.
He firstly decided that for architects to design meaningful spaces for occupation they needed to consider the following; the conditions and effects of the intended place, the form that the space will take and how to correspond with the conditions and effects.
He saw that just like how phenomenology stated that we often simply accept reality and take for granted the phenomenon that “the more normal our living environment looks, the more it is taken for granted”. This is because we often neglect to notice our surroundings during our day to day activities within the built environment we’ve g=created for ourselves. We do not see the relation between our surroundings and the built environment.
Essentially, he believed that experiencing the phenomenon of a place is something to be shared and that is gives a basis of understand and sense of identity. It is then clear that people and what “places” means to them is important in Norbergs discovery. When looking at the comparisons between the natural and the man environment is it clear that a “place” such as a house is not given by nature nut man made, he said that “”When man dwells he is simultaneously located in space and exposed to a certain environmental character. But he also must identify himself with the environment, that is, he has to know how he is in a certain place”. He draws attention to tectonic elements of shape to supply an explanation for the environment. In addition to a focal point on site, phenomenology in structure is worried with how things are made with emphasis on residing and ancient connection. However, there is an intertwining relationship between the two.
He believed that people identified places based on the conditions, by looking as the core features of that place. For example, He describes a neighborhood in phrases of “space” and “character” the place “space denotes the three-dimensional corporation of the elements which make up a place, persona denotes the popular surroundings which is the most whole property of any place”
Schultz therefore contributed immensely to liking phenomenology and the built environment to help with designing practical structures and how people perceived and utilized space. Along with other philosophers, he broke down that the number of experiences through how we perceive things, how we feel, our imagination and what we want along with our activities. These discoveries are therefore what make phenomenology an adventure that makes us aware of our lives and question the reality we normally accept.
? YouTube. (2018). Understanding Phenomenlogy. online Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5geMLe5tbM Accessed 4 Aug. 2018.
? Dodson, E. (2018). Husserl & the Adventure of Phenomenology – In 12 Minutes. online YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjknxljepKA Accessed 7 Aug. 2018.
? van Nes, A. (2018). The Heaven, The Earth and the optic array: Norbeg-Schulz’s Place Phenomenology and its Degree of Operationability. Footprint Architecture and phenomenology, (Autum 2008), pp.114-122.
? Dodson, E. (2018). Husserl & the Adventure of Phenomenology – In 12 Minutes. online YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjknxljepKA Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.