With this the special issue of Footprint the question of the relation of philosophy and architecture, and the significance of phenomenology for architectural practice and discourse is broadly surveyed. Individually, and overall, the articles provide reflections and arguments on topics of space, location, place, architectural practice, meaning in architecture, and on the impact of phenomenology as a philosophical form of enquiry throughout.
Stephen Read in his paper, written out of a post-phenomenological perspective associated with the work of Don Idhe, provides the basis for a new reading of Heidegger on tools and the relation of the social and the technological. A similar concern can be seen in the paper of David Kirshner, ‘Tools: Stuff: Art’. The discourse about space emerges in architecture only towards the end of the nineteenth century, and Leslie Kavanaugh’s groundbreaking study on Brentano on space provides rich context for this turn in architectural discourse towards ‘space’. Susan Herrington and Anne Bordeleau in different ways look at the problems of constituted meanings for architecture, predominantly within the French phenomenological tradition.
Michael Lazarin and Akkelies van Nes bring forward the deepening and continuing response to the work of Heidegger, through an original and new study of Norberg Schulz, and in Lazarin’s rich considerations of the contexts and sources of poetic dwelling in Japanese buildings. Randall Teal furthers the interest in the study of topology, of such concern to Hubert Dreyfus and Jeff Malpas, in the reading of the late work of Heidegger. Working as an artist and sculptor Jasper Coppes has contributed a meditative and detailed response to phenomenological ideas around place, which is of some significance for thinking about the problem of ‘domain’ in architecture. Keane and Selinger look at the work of Arakawa and Gins to demonstrate the fruitfulness of phenomenology for artistic practice and new concepts of the production of space.
Issue's editors: Brendan O’ Byrne, Patrick Healy
Brendan O’ Byrne, Patrick Healy, editors | Architecture and Phenomenology: IntroductionAbstract Article [free PDF]
The implications of philosophical aesthetics in the consideration of architecture have been relatively slight. Part of the reason is the neglect of architecture in the work of Baumgarten, Burke and Kant. Within the discourse of architecture the questions raised for philosophical consideration arising out of practice restricted the area of reflection and investigation. The dominant positions were to become either a version of neo-Kantianism, or a direct re-working of Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics. The significance of Kant’s distinction between ‘free’ and ‘dependent beauty’ is analysed, and in consequence the need to philosophically question again the relation of architecture to buiding, to dwelling and space. For this the question of accessibility as raised in the phenomenological enquiry, in the work of Brentano, Sartre, Bachelard, Merleau-Ponty, and especially Heidegger points to a different route for the appraisal of philosophical and architectural relations which are exhibited in the contributions of the 10 authors to this issue of Footprint.
Stephen Read | Technicity and Publicness: Steps towards an Urban SpaceAbstract Article [free PDF]
Heidegger’s space, with its emphasis on the disclosure of entities in settings of mutually referring entities, and the integration of settings and action, requires us to think carefully about issues like the identities and being of people and things and their relations with each other in a realm of plurality. All entities are captured in webs of co-reference which make their relations between themselves and to ourselves a very public matter. These webs themselves are at the same time the very channels by which we know and access all things, and relations of power become built into them which affect the ways we know things and the possibilities we see for acting. This paper explores and reviews issues of technicity, intersubjectivity, and plurality in relation to Heidegger’s thinking, in order to begin the process of outlining an urban space of the settings ‘between men’ for coherence and action, and to define a direction for further research on urban space and place.
Jasper Coppes | Revisiting the Invisible Hiding PlaceAbstract Article [free PDF]
Leslie Kavanaugh | Brentano on SpaceAbstract Article [free PDF]
In Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century, a virtual explosion occured of thought, creativity and revolutionary energy. At the origins of phenomenology, Franz Brentano took inspiration from Aristotle's de Anima in order to provide the bridge between mental acts [psychisch] and sensible phenomena [physisch]; the link or relationship which he called intentional in-existence. Phenomenology would completely change the direction of how philosophy constituted its problems - the relation between the “physical” and the “psychic”, the inter-relatedness of all things, the relation of our body to space and time, as well as how phenomena “appear” to consciousness. This essay briefly sketches out this geneology, and explicates the importance of Brentano's thought on the issues of space-time-continuum.
Susan Herrington | You Are Not Here: Sartre’s Phenomenological Ontology and the Architecture of AbsenceAbstract Article [free PDF]
This paper examines Jean-Paul Sartre’s phenomenological ontology in relationship to experiences with architecture that account for absence. While interest in Sartre’s phenomenology has waned over the past thirty years, philosophers of art are revisiting his work, particularly the way imagination figures in his phenomenology. As educators, students, and practitioners who have the task of imagining what could be, Sartre’s grasp of the imagining consciousness in experience is especially relevant. His three main forms of the imagining consciousness - negation, nothingness, and being - are explored in the context space, place, and location. These forms of consciousness are drawn from his major phenomenological studies regarding the imagination, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology (1943; 1956), The Imaginary (1940; 2004), and Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960; 1976). Examples of absence include in-situ memorial structures that literally provide the space for negation, sites of religious veneration that render the place of nothingness, and spontaneous memorials that serve as the location for being (pour-soi, en-soi, and pour-autrui). Ultimately, Sartre’s phenomenological ontology reveals that imagination plays a vital role in understanding the experiential power of architecture in relationship to space, place, and location. In doing so, this paper also suggests that the imagining conscious itself may be an important part of an ontology of architecture.
Randall Teal | Placing the Fourfold: Topology as Environmental DesignAbstract Article [free PDF]
In his later writing, Martin Heidegger outlines an existential structure called the fourfold, which is composed of earth, sky, mortals, and divinities. Gathering the fourfold is the ‘thing’, which, by its ‘thinging’ makes manifest a world. This is the happening of ‘place’ and Heidegger’s descriptions of this happening offer a certain lyrical beauty, but are not particularly illuminating if left undigested. In order to get to the real wealth one must examine the phenomena suggested, moving beyond the intellect into the experiences themselves. In light of such reading, considering environmental issues—particularly the way we build—might suggest directions toward more responsive and attuned practices that both acknowledge and activate the nuances of place. Although Heidegger says at the beginning of his essay “Building Dwelling Thinking” that he is not trying to ‘discover architectural ideas’ or develop ‘rules for building’, I still believe it is important to delve into this work with an eye toward architecture, as he lays out some beautiful and insightful ideas by which we might better assess our place in the environment. If we read Heidegger with the phenomena in mind, a richness emerges from the poetic quality of his writing that reflects the imbrication of time, culture, growth, human responsibility, and those things of significance within our world. My hope is that through such reading and thinking, possibilities might surface for designers to develop deeper phenomenological connections between building and place. In this way, Heidegger’s poetic descriptions of the thing and the fourfold can be a catalyst in shedding new light on the way we think about building with environments. This approach seeks to question the often myopic view of sustainability as technological upgrade and instrumental efficiency; for example, solar panels on a sweatshop would not demonstrate the depth of attunement that Heidegger’s writings endorse. In order to move beyond simply limiting ecological damage and maximising natural resources, it becomes important for mortals to create things that bring us together with the earth, sky, and divinities; and in so doing gather a place for a sustainable future.
Anne Bordeleau | An Indexical Approach to ArchitectureAbstract Article [free PDF]
The paper uses Peirce’s notion of the index and Arendt’s conception of action and reification to cast light on a phenomenological consideration of architecture. The relation that Arendt establishes within a larger historical context between the contemporary reification of art and the socio-political role of action sets up a framework in which the need for a phenomenological approach to architecture is reasserted. In the past two hundred years, from the first age of historicism, marked by nineteenth-century historical relativism, to our second age of historicism, characterised by the recognition of relative historicity, there always were architects who sought the essence of architecture at a fundamentally human and experiential level. It is significant that in a period that wavered between eclectic relativism and rigid objectivism, a situation still felt today, the experience of architecture was consistently considered as an essential means to architecture. How does phenomenology operate beyond the categories of the objective and the relative, between the visible and the tangible?
The paper explores ways in which architecture can physically question the user – is it a trace from the past, an imprint of its time, an index requiring movement for comprehension? Making space for the interpenetration of personal and shared times, the translation of the index in architecture does not dictate meaning or reduce it to an endless play between signifier and signified: it throws the question back to the level of the embodied encounter. Steering clear of a consideration of autonomous constructions, architecture is dynamically considered within a triadic relation that equally involves the architecture itself, the world in which it takes shape, and the people that experience it.
Michael Lazarin | Temporal Architecture: Poetic Dwelling in Japanese buildingsAbstract Article [free PDF]
Heidegger’s thinking about poetic dwelling and Derrida’s impressions of Freudian estrangement are employed to provide a constitutional analysis of the experience of Japanese architecture, in particular, the Japanese vestibule (genkan). This analysis is supplemented by writings by Japanese architects and poets.
The principal elements of Japanese architecture are: (1) ma, and (2) en. Ma is usually translated as ‘interval’ because, like the English word, it applies to both space and time. However, in Japanese thinking, it is not so much an either/or, but rather a both/and. In other words, Japanese architecture emphasises the temporal aspect of dwelling in a way that Western architectural thinking usually does not. En means ‘joint, edge, the in-between’ as an ambiguous, often asymmetrical spanning of interior and exterior, rather than a demarcation of these regions. Both elements are aimed at producing an experience of temporality and transiency.
Akkelies Van Nes | The Heaven, the Earth and the Optic Array: Norberg Schulz’s Place Phenomenology and its Degree of OperationabilityAbstract Article [free PDF]
This contributions aim for to present the core of Christian Norberg-Schultz' later work about place phenomenology and architectural existentialism, its strengths and weaknesses and challenges for improvement. Christian Norberg-Schultz's book Intentions in Architecture is probably his most internationally known publication. One of his books, unfortunately only published in Norwegian, with the title Mellom himmel og jord ('between heaven and earth'), presents a continuation of Intentions in Architecture. It gives a presentation of Norberg-Schultz' architectural existentialism and his theory on places. It is build further up on Heidegger's text 'Bauen Wohnen Denken'. This book presents the frame and core of Norberg-Schultz's work from his last 30 years. In order to reflect upon the degree of operationability of his place theory, examples from Dutch and the Norwegian built environments will be used throughout the article.
Jondi Keane and Evan Selinger | Architecture and Philosophy: Reflections on Arakawa and GinsAbstract Article [free PDF]
This essay is a critical review of a recent Arakawa and Gins conference—an event that brought phenomenology and architecture into productive dialog through the advancement of interdisciplinary inquiry into the subtle and complex ways that embodied activity structures cognition and perception. To provide the reader with sufficient context to appreciate the ensuing discussion of Arakawa and Gins’s concepts and hypotheses, we open with an overview of their previous collaborations. We then transition to analysis of a unique installation called 'Reading Room', and, immediately afterwards, provide exegetical commentary on select conference presentations. This commentary emphasizes phenomenological perspectives, especially ideas that Don Ihde and Shaun Gallagher conveyed. We conclude by outlining some of the most promising horizons of thought that the conference brought to our consideration.
David Kirshner | Tools: Stuff: ArtAbstract Article [free PDF]
Between 1890 and 1898 Erik Satie lived at 6 rue Cortot: ‘in a wardrobe’. Satie was a collector . . . . After his death his wardrobe was found to contain 84 handkerchiefs besides 12 identical velvet suits and dozens of umbrellas.
Trois morceaux en forme de poire . . . three pieces in the form of a pear. The title of a piano piece in seven parts by Erik Satie. Satie composed this piece in response to Debussy's criticism that his works lacked a 'sense of form'. What exactly did Debussy mean by this? Where and what actually was this scene of formlessness?
The first part of the Paper will advance some possible reasoning behind Debussy's comments. Was Debussy questioning Satie's attitude to what Heidegger [in The Origin of the Work of Art] would term the 'thingly' element of the Work of Art, or more precisely - the relationship between 'things' and the 'thing in itself' ?
Heidegger's contemplation of 'Form' and his writings on 'tools', 'material' and 'art', and the section dealing with the Temple provides an interesting locus in which to discus Debussy's comments.
The second section gives some ideas of how I reinterpreted this argument to produce a series of visual works inspired by another of Satie's works, Furniture Music - Musique d' ameublement, a piece of music that was not to be listened to.
Milhaud later recounted: ‘It was no use Satie shouting: “Talk for heaven's sake! Move around! Don't listen!” They kept quiet. They listened. The whole thing went wrong.’