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Space, Place and Atmosphere: Peripheral Perception and Emotion in Architectural Experience

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Space, Place and Atmosphere: Peripheral Perception and Emotion in Architectural Experience

Juhani Pallasmaa, Finland

Architecture is usually understood and taught in terms of space, form, and structure, as perceived through focused vision. The significance of the overarching peripheric and atmospheric perception is completely neglected. Yet, we have an amazing capacity to instantly grasp the overall ambience and feeling of a landscape, urban setting, place or space. Even regions and continents have their recognizable atmospheres. In fact, focused vision makes us outsiders, where as diffuse peripheral perception turns us insiders and participants. Altogether, unconscious diffuse perception has a crucial role in the grasp of our existential situation as well as the feeling of being part of ”the flesh of the world”, to use a notion of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Atmospheric perception could well be named our sixth sense.

The creative mind also seems to rely on deliberate suppression of precision, and we grasp emotionally the essence of things from the entity down to details; in the artistic sphere, we often feel the emotive meaning of the work without ”understanding” any of its constituent parts.

An overall atmosphere is a unifying characteristic in architecture, and there are architects and artists whose works are based more on qualities of an embracing and haptic ambience than precise and focused formal qualities. A heightened sense of materiality, texture, rhythm, colour, and illuminations usually characteristic of atmospheric architecture.

  • Cultural Centre of Belgrade, Artget Gallery, The Republic Square 5

  • Thursday, 22 May 2014
    CANCELED lecture