phenomenology

intro.

This is the first post in a series for my Contextual Research Methods class this fall. If successful, I hope to continue the conversation so long as the posts are interesting enough, thought-provoking, or inspiring. They may in fact be none of these, but it’s required, so I can only hope they will be.

First off, I’m currently a fourth-year architecture student studying at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). Before that, I studied architecture at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), a school much more pragmatic than SCAD is. Throughout my studies here, I’ve delved much deeper into architectural thought, particularly the concept of phenomenology, with some influence from Eastern thought. If you’re unfamiliar with phenomenology, we’ll probably get into that later, but architecture really fits into one simple spectrum:

Of course, this is incredibly simplified, and many architects or theorists may disagree, but I believe the fine line between form and function is where we fully experience and understand space, materiality, our senses, and our own sense of spirituality.

I’ve titled this blog ‘nous’, an ancient Greek term defined as intellect or our perception within the mind. Nous is the power of thought, where qualitative and quantitative observations are collected through individual senses. However, this data is still merely observation, yet to be grasped by the psyche. When we fully comprehend the concepts and information at hand, we are able to understand not only with logic, but also with emotion and the everyday context that plays into our lives. Say for instance, in designing a chapel, the structure itself serves a certain function. By knowing this function, we can seek proper utilization of form. What does the space look like? How big is it? How is it lit? When we combine form and function in the proper way, we can seek a solution which causes us to feel. A chapel with walls clad in unfinished wood feels entirely different than one clad in marble, even while the spacial dimensions are identical.

This fine line is where we experience phenomena, where we grasp the knowledge of the mind with the power of the soul, where our own individual context and participation change our perception of all things around us.

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