Sensing Architecture

Sensing Architecture is an exhibition currently ongoing at the Royal Academy in London.  Space for an architect does not exist so we design the limits that give the impression of space. Following this principle the architect Souto de Mura expresses his definition of space, an entity that becomes real only through its boundaries.

Limits therefore become the matter that concerns the architect. Within limits architects apply certain functions justifying their subjective choices when designing those limits.

Architects are usually very attached to judgments about the efficiency of their work. If a ten-storey-building does not have any staircases we cannot say that it is defining space in an efficient way.

Functionality and beauty are the main criteria to value a built and designed limited space. The intrinsic quality of architecture is produced by the combination of these two features and they inspire a sense of comfort or un-comfort to whom inhabits that architecture.

A comfortable space is where all senses are stimulated and generate a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. 

If architecture becomes an object that exclusively stimulates visual interests and therefore looses its main reason to exist – how can it create the sense of comfort? If architecture does not offer the experience of using its function, what would be the difference between architecture and art?

The exhibition intelligently plays with built structures that are limiting the existing space of the Royal Academy and – in some moments – evokes interesting interactions between the museum and the objects exposed.

Sensing Architecture is a promising title but the exhibition instead does not offer the visitor to experience senses of comfort or un-comfort that architecture can induce. It rather proposes a visual experience.

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Kengo Kuma

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Souto de Mura and Alvaro Siza

Photos & Text by Costanza Madricardo – Architecture Editor in London

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