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Introduction and Editorial

Vol. 5 No. 1 (2020): Visual Spaces of Change: Designing Interiority - shelter, shape, place, atmosphere

About the 5th Number of Sophia, Visual Spaces of Change: Designing Interiority - Shelter, Shape, Place, Atmosphere





To dwell and to build is not an art, is not a technique, but a realm where things belong. This is a statement addressed by Heidegger in Bauen Wohnen Denken, his text more connected with architecture that is more contemporary than ever. In effect, two questions as What is it to dwell? and How does building belong to dwelling? are intertwined with others like How to dwell in the current world? and How to give form to the quality of dwelling? The responses should point out again to Heideggerian’s line of thought: ‘Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build’. He pushes the argument to the limit adding that dwelling is to conciliate ‘earth’, ‘heaven’, ‘the mortals’ and ‘the gods’ (the divine). To dwell and to build should be the preservation of such square. It is remarkable that Heidegger’s writings on this topic, that stimulated and still stimulate the architectural debate, were strongly influenced by the philosopher’s life in the Schwarzwald, close to the village of Todtnauberg. In Heidegger’s Hut (Adam Scharr) the hut in which Heidegger lived in for five decades, since he ordered its construction in 1922, is described, as well as the bonds he created with the landscape and all environment. The hut was a place for him to dwell and to think, because both belong together and were mutually influencing body, feelings and sense of place. And if Norberg-Shulz left the phenomenological legacy of the genius loci as the spirit of the place, with its particular atmosphere and fundamental implications for building, genius loci within Heidegger’s thoughts on building, dwelling and thinking recall the sense of protection and of sacredness of a place like the one called home. Life in balance with the spirit of the place showed Heidegger that the emotional space is measured very differently from space measured mathematically. And to build and to dwell are activities with a significant order that resonates in mind, body and spirit.

For phenomenology, place is not just the geographic or topographic location, but consists of effective elements such as materials, form, texture, colour, light, shadow playing together. The interdependence of all those elements, along with others allows the opportunity for some spaces, with identical functions, to express diverse architectural features and therefore countlessatmospheres to perceive, enjoy and cherish. ‘Sometimes I can almost feel a particular door handle in my hand, a piece of metal shaped like the back of a spoon. I used to take hold of it when I went into my aunt’s garden. That door handle still seems to me like a special sign of entry into a world of different moods and smells. I remember the sound of the gravel under my feet, the soft gleam of the waxed oak staircase, I can hear the heavy front door closing behind me as I walk along the dark corridor and enter the kitchen, the only really brightly lit room in the house’, confesses Peter Zumthor.

On the shoulders of these inspiring ideas and experiences, the plot for the 5th number of Sophia was designed. It called original articles that discuss the core of interiority in architecture as a matter open to diverse ideas and practices in the realm of built space to be experienced by its dwellers. Interiority to be argued as a dimension that differentiates a place of a non-place. The non-places are spots with which the individual does not create any relation; they are transit- places without memory, identity, history, personal construction, references, emotions of which solace is not a minor one. Interiority claims that kind of space that accommodates thoughts, dreams, nightmares, intimacy, changes, silence, noise, Shelter, shape, place, atmosphere portray scenarios that enhance experiences, events, occurrences beyond the functionalistic rhetoric enveloping them.

All the texts that compose this issue display the strong insights the authors chose to approach the proposed topic. They trigger new thoughts and new questions. Three articles and an interview appear as the hard core of this volume.

Preserving heritage through new narratives: designing a guesthouse within a cross-disciplinary team from Pedro Bandeira Maia and Raul Pinto discusses a very demanding design program of transformation of an interior space from a former pharmacy to a guest house in a historical building from the nineteenth century. The article exposes the methodology followed by a cross disciplinary team debating the project’s narrative illustrated with very expressive images.

The role of architecture in an engaging and meaningful experience of the physical exhibition from Bárbara Coutinho and Ana Tostões evolves from the main argument that the physical exhibition is the immediate way to encounter the arts in line with the phenomenological understanding of the aesthetic experience. It recalls the inspiring role of exhibition designs of Frederick Kiesler, Franco Albini and Lina Bo Bardi as examples to contrast with the growing process of digitalisation and dematerialisation of the involvement with art. Authors address then the reasons why for contemporary times it is important that an exhibition is designed to be a physical matter between spectators and art.

The need for Shelter. Laugier, Ledoux, and Enlightenment’s shadows from Rui Aristides and José António Bandeirinha discourses about the human need for shelter as the essence that defines the discipline of architecture. This approach is developed within an historical framework, namely referring the legacy of Laugier and Ledoux intertwined with philosophical and political issues.Based upon these reasoning, the authors go further and tackle the architecture’s role regarding shelter in contemporary times.

The interview The Power of Imagination made to Danish Designer Hans Thyge is an exciting journey to pertinent themes thought from the professional practice of a designer who after 30 years in design still believes in the use of a pencil and a paper to sketch and to imagine. ‘Interiors’ is central in this storytelling as a challenge to create spatial experiences and staging atmospheres. Also his own house, designed by him, is a key moment to make special considerations regarding dwelling and building.

We are very thankful for authors’ contributions and vivid minds.