Space Potential is a conceptual platform, responding to questions on space and architecture: what is crucial for architecture today, what needs to be considered in architectural praxis and pursued in the architectural practice, what should we not give up on, so that architecture will continue to exist and work as architecture?
Space Potential is focusing on architecture as a dynamic relation and complex experience between individual and space. It is moving away from defining architecture as solely physical arrangement of objects and shapes towards the experiential reality that emerges on the threshold between objective reality (physical aspect of space) and subjective realm (existential aspect of space), placing an individual into the locus of perception, experience and interpretation of space.
We perceive and experience space with all our senses, intuition, contemplation and reason in a complex way while moving through it.1 Physical aspect of space is defined by Euclidean geometry, autonomous forms and function, whereas the existential aspect of space stems from the intertwinement of multi-sensory bodily experience, intuition, memories, stories, archetypes, the passing of time and movement. Human body enriched by its multisensory apparatus is the locus of sensation, whereas the mind with its conscious and subconscious processes is the center of perception, experience and interpretation of space.2 Perception and experience of objective and subjective aspects of space intertwine and form an intense and unique spatial experience, called Space Potential.
Space Potential is inexhaustible and derives from landscape, which is the essential manifestation of space.3 The notion of landscape as an idyllic representation of aesthetic and soothing natural surroundings with meadows and fields, still has its place in our hearts today, but has little or no connection to the world that we presently experience.4 Contemporary landscapes can be natural as well as urban, or even a combination of both, including landscape manifestations, such as airports, high-ways, railways, technological and industrial parks and so called unmentionable landscapes, with no proper form or name that clutter our urban peripheries.5 Architecture with all its constructive fields constitutes urban landscape – city, a natural habitat of the contemporary man. Individual’s basic principle is to live in harmony with oneself and with the environment. Accordingly, cities will remain only if we take care of the survival of their citizens by building architecture that is designed with individual’s bodily identification and sense of self in mind.
Space Potential is intensified by Spatial Sensuousness. It sums up information transmitted through senses, intuition, contemplation and reason. Every spatial intervention affects the way we live, think and function, therefore “Architects need to understand their influence on environment and society and take the responsibility for the effects of their actions.”6 Accordingly, architect’s task is to cultivate Spatial Sensuousness, hence it is the appropriate condition for experiencing the physical, as well as the existential aspect of space and thus perceiving a complex Space Potential7 – the intense, inexhaustible and utmost luscious ingredient of space. In architectural planning as well as in the use of architectural space in general one should reveal and consider utmost of space potential.8 The task of architecture is then to grasp Space Potential by perceptible means, creating new space with new Space Potential.9
Nonetheless, integrity of Space Potential cannot be revealed and analyzed solely through the general analysis of space, which is based primarily on the analysis of physical aspect of space.10 Ergo, the existential aspect of space remains unexplored and information about the complex quality of space incomplete, revealing only a small part of Space Potential.11 Architecture has become an increasingly interdisciplinary profession, offering fertile ground for us architects to design and create radically diversified languages that are based on a rather intuitive and experiential approaches to articulate our ideas and thus, create wholly unique tools, techniques and methods for analyzing, documenting and presenting Space Potential.
I have designed and carried out two interdisciplinary concepts in the Space Potential manner – Urban Yoga and Video Method PLES. PLES is the acrostic of the four consecutive phases (P-rimary, L-atent, E-xperimental and S-ummary), as well as a Slovenian word for ‘dance’, which symbolizes the interrelationship between the architect and space, produced through a dynamic interaction, when an individual is flowing through space. Urban Yoga is a series of photos taken in New York City and Madrid and are still to be taken in various metropolises around the world. Urban Yoga is rediscovering the lost Spatial Sensuousness, a situation where city and body are in constant interaction and are thus mutually supplementing and defining each other. Both concepts will be thoroughly presented in the two consecutive posts, as a sequel to this one.
Space Potential is discussing possibilities and characteristics of space if we are engaging in it with our whole being, moving beyond the regular architectural analysis, tools and methods, towards an experience with an existential significance.12 It is then, when less obvious aspects of space open up, revealing new ways of thinking, living and functioning.13 The basic principle of the Space Potential platform stems from the notion that “architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world”,14 the experiential process based on our senses and sensory perception of the space around us. Therefore, the architect is allowed to internalize the objective realm, because “the only way to reach the objective representation of reality is by comparing various subjective images”.15
Visual images of Space Potential theory in the post are deliberately left rather abstract, as my aim is to trigger thoughts and induce actions, leaving enough space for individual engagement and interpretation of suggested directions. Namely, sensing and perception are inherently subjective, the only correspondence to reality is the one that what we as humans agreed upon. However, we may use architecture as a vehicle to enrich and create experiences and interpretations of space that will be shared among our fellow human beings, sparking further changes in our agreement about Space Potential.
1. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67
2. Alenka Kompare, Mihaela Stražišar, Tomaž Vec, Irena Dogša, Norbert Jaušovec, Janina curk, Psihologija, Spoznanje in dileme. (Ljubljana DZS, 2002).
3. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
4. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 48.
5. Ibid, p. 48.
6. Brian Bell in Katie Wakeford, Expanding Architecture. (New York: Metropolisbooks, 2008).
7. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
8. Ibid, p. 59-67.
9. Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co., Tokyo, Japan: http://www.nakam.info/en/
10. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 50.
11. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
12. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 10, 11.
13. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
14. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 72.
15. Janek Musek, Zgodovina psihologije. (Ljubljana: Oddelek za psihologijo Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani, 2003), 5.