‘‘Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture. It is not the physical statement of the structure so much as what it contains that moves us.’’ (Arthur Erickson)
As designers we challenge, create and enhance the living environment. We can influence one’s lifestyle through the physical and psychological implementation of a design but it is not until the interface between space and the inhabitant/user begins that the design truly lives. In that moment where the interaction between our internalised selves and the immediate space begins, the interconnection of building and language starts. Through our experience of the space, we make a lasting spatial imprint.
In the evolving world of interior and architecture we go through a series of events: in its most simplified terms we deconstruct, reinvent, build and the cycle ultimately repeats itself.
In my first year studying Interior & Spatial Design (2002) I was fortunate enough to be taught by a captivating designer, Saskia Lewis, now Director of Foundation at Architectural Association. She had co-written a book with David Littlefield called ‘Architectural voices; listening to old buildings’. In Architectural Voices they posed a series of simple – but metaphorical – questions: ‘‘If a building could speak, what would it say? What would it sound like? Would it be worth listening to?’’
In the book Architectural Voices, the underlying thesis was this:
‘‘That buildings, indeed all built spaces, live just as powerfully in the mind and the imagination than they do as physical artefacts – perhaps more so; that the significance of buildings lies not in their fabric and spatial coordinates but in the meanings we attach to them; that human beings have an extraordinary ability to attach meaning, and value, to ordinary matter – indeed, we animate matter; and that experiencing space is a process of some sort of conversation between building and inhabitant, in that the qualities of spaces trigger responses within individuals, while individuals simultaneously project their own values onto their surroundings. In this respect, the importance of symbol, association, metaphor and narrative cannot be underestimated. Buildings and other constructed spaces – even those built of mere stone and clay – become revered, protected, symbolic,sacred, destroyed. By understanding our relationships with buildings we learn much about ourselves.’’ (David Littlefield – Narrative Space Paper 21.01.10)
An intriguing notion which resonates with me. The impression that once echoes within the space ultimately changes or evolves however the notion of its past can reverberate further then the building itself.
In the industry where the built environment is ever changing one must ask themselves what is or was the spatial relationship between the inhabitant and the building itself. As building or space are used, inhabited and explored, do they not naturally manifest an identity beyond what it was initially created for? The worn steps of a staircase, the patinated door handle, the fading wallpaper, all unique traits to the individual space we live in like a fingerprints.
In Rachel Whiteread’s Turner prize winning House (1993) she captured the absence of space by spraying liquid concrete into the building’s empty shell before its external walls were removed. It is a paradox of a house in all terms and purposes, it is a dwelling which cannot be dwelled in, a building which cannot be entered. What I find most fascinating about this work, is that she successfully preserved the house’s identity in time by solidifying the interior thus concealing its memories and sealing them off from others. However like a fossil, the 20th century house contain traces of what once were, like odd details impressed on the surface; the indented plug sockets, the door frames and paneling, the zigzag of the staircase between the levels. The overall effect, simplified in its state of stillness and material, clearly whispers ‘‘I LIVED’’.
Space materialised with a voice of the past.
Teody Lopez, Design Manager
Fig.1 The Round House with layers of paint flaking away from the brickwork
Fig.2 Abandoned Hotel, Detroit
Fig.3 The Round House characterised by its deteriorating surface, a patchwork of mould, salts, cracks and peeling paint
Fig.4 House 1993 – Rachel Whiteread
Fig.5 Derelict House – 2 Wilkes St, Spitalfields
For more information regarding the Morpheus Design House please contact email@example.com.
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