The troubled relationship between architecture and aesthetic: exploring the self and emotional beauty in design by Yael Reisner-Cook

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Abstract

As its title informs us, this research has a double agenda: investigating the troubled relationship between architecture and its generated aesthetic since the early 1940s when the Self was repressed – the Eye and the ‘I’ – as well as exploring, through my test-bed project, a design process where feelings and emotions are an integral part.

My research is an investigation into what seems to be a great paradox within architectural discourse. While good architecture or brilliant buildings tend to be judged by their capacity to produce an aesthetic experience, many architects claim they generate architecture in response to rational utilitarian issues, often insisting on removing themselves as personalities from the design process. This down-plays the direct relationship between personal judgement and visual discrimination, a position which has broader cultural implications.

After a short decade (1977-88) of free imagination, lateral thinking and celebrating the Self, from the late 1980s the intellectualisation and further rationalisation of the architectural design process came again to the fore and became an authorial voice substituting the Self by introducing either philosophy, math or both to the design process.

Investigating this troubled relationship took place alongside exploring the creation of an emotional environment within the architectural context; ways in which space becomes emotionally charged. G. Bachelard’s exposition of issues contained within poetry teaches us that like poetry, visual poetic images might release people into reverie, the state of mind in which the eidetic memory is accessed.

The wonder and beauty of nature is a constant reminder of wonderful possibilities – with great relevance to architecture. My intention is not to depict or describe nature, but to evoke human emotions (as nature does) through the architectural spaces that I design. Using and evoking poetic images in the design process forming the preludes to emotive architecture.

Spatial-Depth or Depth–Scape were two equivalent terms I coined for a new architectural spatial pursuit; it is the spatial-depth quality and effect that I explored which I believe is the aspect of my research that is a contribution to the field of architectural design. A new spatial concept and a new architectural language that substitutes the ubiquitous and already old Modern planar architecture. Opposed to the prevalent topological surface, with continuous and consistent skins, an exuberant ‘inside-out’, complex three dimensionally with an enhanced depth to be inhabited or involved with at close distance. A new spatial quality engulfed with emotional triggers such as the manifold silhouettes in the interactive time-cycled Light and Acoustic Installation – an emotional beauty.

For architecture, aesthetics has the power to synthesise poetic and emotional values and at the same time give coherence to the design itself.

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