20080915

The Eyes of the Skin



The eye is the organ of distance and separation, whereas touch is the sense of nearness, intimacy and affection. The eye surveys, controls and investigates, whereas touch approaches and caresses. During overpowering emotional experiences, we tend to close off the distancing sense of vision; we close our eyes when dreaming, listening to music, or caressing our beloved ones. Deep shadows and darkness are essential, because they dim the sharpness of vision, make depth and distance ambiguous, and invite unconscious peripheral vision and tactile fantasy.
- Juhani Pallasmaa, “The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses”


In his book “The Eyes of the Skin...”, Juhani Pallasmaa writes about the bias towards vision in our culture as a whole and in the architectural practice in particular. Buildings are foremost conceived based on the way they look, not how the body interacts with them. By dimming the light and restriction vision, we are able to take in the full extent of our surroundings, the way it smells, sounds and feels. In this way, the experience of an architectural space can penetrate our consciousness, letting our body feel the full extent of a place and strengthening our existential experience.

Twilight is the time before sunrise, called dawn, and the time after sunset, called dusk. Sunlight scattered in the upper atmosphere illuminates the lower atmosphere, and the surface of the Earth is not completely lit or completely dark. The sun itself is not actually visible because it has not yet come over the horizon (sunrise) or it has passed below the horizon (sunset).
- Wikipedia

From early autumn, twilight grow longer and longer in Sweden. Then the nights come quicker, until they, at least in the north, dominate over the day. During these months, as daylight becomes scarce, not only do our bodies become more and more open to our other senses, but our imagination is also stimulated. Pallasmaa continues:

Homogenous bright light paralyses the imagination in the same way that homogenisation of space weakens the experience of being, and wipes away the sense of place. The human eye is most perfectly tuned for twilight rather than bright daylight.

This full involvement with a space is what I am hoping to achieve with the design of the dark inside of the pavilion. A space not necessarily completely dark but with little enough light to be able to feel the space to completely. By being in a “forest” is the peripheral vision as important as the direct gaze and the structure of the trunks, echo from the walls and the sense of the body climbing up and down the hilly landscape all form equal parts in the spatial experience.

// "The Eyes of the Skin" on Amazon
// Wikipedia on twilight

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