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Architecture Is Not Born Out Of Sight

The architectural representation is based on a Cartesian formula between the height, length and width of our reality, which leads us to experience and recognize the world in three dimensions. But to speak of the third dimension is to recognize the cognitive capacity to perceive the world particularly through the sense of sight. The architectural solution starts mainly from the two-dimensional representation derived from the plan, and from the experiential narrative suggested by the architect. A narrative that is precisely the compilation of knowledge and experience acquired to solve a problem through design. The architect's narrative becomes relevant for architectural interpretation, since seeing architecture from a two-dimensional plane is dangerous, especially when it comes to solving a problem through experience. The idea of ​​experience, then, starts from the recognition of a particularly individual event and derived from acquired knowledge, first in a personal and intimate way, and second from the community and the context. Each person's experience is unique and manifests itself according to the way the brain records an event, its relevance and how it adheres to memory.

But if the experience is individual, how can it be transmitted?

Human history is full of great narratives that make the imagination fly, leading us to create our own experience, mainly imagined and perhaps fantastic. Italo Calvino, in his book, The Invisible Cities, precisely tells the stories that Marco Polo tells Kublai Kan about cities and urban experiences that mix between reality and imagination, not only of Marco but of Kublai himself, who cannot leave of seasoning the stories of the former with his own imaginary experience.

The architect who narrates design through experience challenges the two-dimensional plane, and places the listener in an experiential and three-dimensional plane, full of paths, lights and shadows that do not exist; but present in their cognitive capacity and in previously acquired memory. Our brain capacity and spatial perception are not achieved through two-dimensional representation alone, but require the interpretation and narrative and imagery that accompanies the dialogue on design. The brain not only works with the sense of sight, but in conjunction with the memory and experience of the other senses.

The programmed representation between walls, floors and ceilings, not only determines a phenomenon of perception and experience, but from a haptic perspective manages to stimulate sensations between surfaces and objects. The haptic occurs at the neuronal and cognitive level, and where the architectural elements are identified by proximity and position of the elements in space. As well as the proprioceptive relationship between each element and our body; the textures, the temperature of the materials, the color recognition, the surface, the roof, the openings, the void and the edges of a building.

From the research on the perception about the third dimension and architecture have derived different theories and studies that demonstrate the effects on behavior and preferences of the human being. One of the most relevant theories of visual and haptic perception is about landscape design in the 17th century called "The Picturesque". This is defined as a strategy of a formal composition and manipulation of landscape through design elements that produce a pictorial and framing sensation, specifically when viewed from one position. In the same way that a painting is viewed, "The Picturesque" frames visual angles through the location of the viewer, and is determined by the harmony of the observed elements. This type of design solutions lead us to evaluate the meaning of distance, time, and space between the observed objects.

The Woods of Hafod John Warwick Smith. 1795.
The Woods of Hafod John Warwick Smith. 1795.

The punctual position of the observer in space creates interest in the visual experience towards landscape, and this is because the information obtained by identifying the elements frame what is observed, and stimulates a reaction towards conventional, contextual and the intuitive meaning of each element, and produces a reflective experience on the spot. Our brain processes the information obtained, and through neuronal stimulation will then produce a reaction that could stimulate not only to see the landscape in a contemplative way, but to travel through the terrain, inviting to analyze the elements closely.

Juhani Pallasma writes: "Vision reveals what touch already knows ... Our eyes caress distant surfaces, contours and edges, and the unconscious tactile sensation determines the pleasant or unpleasantness of the experience"

In this sense we can realize that stimulation occurs in the haptic and proprioceptive sense; and by the need that reigns in our curious nature. At the same time, a cognitive process and recognition of unknown elements is generated. So the need for exploration is subject to be search, particularly due to the mystery of knowing what is observed.

Kaplan and Kaplan, through their theory of preference, describe the stimulating factors of sensory experience: exploration and understanding. And they formulate the objectives to make sense and get involved in the environment. With this they define that the factors that determine the preference are subjected to two sources of perceived information: the present or immediate, and the future or potential.

The stimulation to make a spatial tour results from the desire to move and explore what invites one to interact in space, from the tension between the body and the objects being observed, and from the flexibility to move away from the perceived frame. The view, although it plays a relevant role, is guided by the haptic experience, and the formula will provoke us to explore architecture. The eye depends not only on the readability and visualization of objects in space, or on a planned and clear visual framework, but also on the temperature of the place, the smell and, of course, our capacity for proprioception to be interested in movement. , for exploration and for the goal of creating our own experience.

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