Phenomenological Space gives life to architecture!

It is interesting on one end, but in my point of view, the architecture is dying!

Architecture is becoming less attractive, dying sooner or later. Less body interaction in real world makes life boring and unexciting. Building is no longer a destination, but a ‘place’ of aesthetical form is expressed plus this type of ‘place’  draws certain limitations for the space to extend its potentials.

“it (architecture)  will continue to exist, but in the state of dissapearance.” (Paul V, 1998)

At the same time, the ‘Other’ world has now become part of our life, the virtual world. Virtual reality is a new direction of the world. We have to accept the fact that our world is no longer alone, but living with untouchable entities created by us. Virtual life is expanding very fast with the  rapid growth of technologies which at the same time putting the reality in unstable matter. We could no longer convince ourselves between real and fiction. The virtual world is chasing the real world by means of cyberspace; a project or concept in a manner of concreting the real world into imagination, perception, abstraction and memory.

Cyber space depends on bodily experience

However, this cyberspace could not exist by itself. It consists of virtual reality, data visualisation, graphic user interfaces, multimedia, hyper graphics, and yet it still depends on real body experience to be hallucinated as space. Body experience perceives objects and places in virtual reality through sensation, reaction, expectation called as interaction.

Base on body theory, people who mentally ‘enter’ the virtual world have bodily experience of controlling the key location , rewriting the law of physics and defying their physical constraint in real world. The most outstanding artefact that generates the biggest interaction of user in virtual world is video games.

Enhancing interaction by games or play

Games is an ergodic artifacts which contains settings; code or material string of command, and architecture; the hallucinated journey designed by the game designer. It is a set of rules that can assign new fictional world without modifying the rules. As mentioned by Miguel S, code regulates possibilities of the architecture (journey of games) determines the way it can evolve. (Walz, 2010)

Some socialist believed that games is a media that makes inviduals isolated from his or her society. However, Castranova (2005) mentioned that games are not focussing on individuals, but community. By having massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) gamers from all over the world can create their own virtual community based on their interest, but not in their real life. This happened due to wrong direction of built environment which encourage no interaction between people and its elements. The value of our built environment has been brought into virtual life, the games arena. It might happen in the future, our body will be isolated in one tiny room like a coffin, that connects our minds completely to a virtual world with the bodies are represented by Avatars. The interaction in virtual wold might be greater that the real world. Perhaps, in the future, our real world built environment is no longer needed. It holds the concept of ” Greater realism has greater immersion.” They are pushing the boundaries of virtual world, blurring the identity of both. For instance, Wii Sports combine real body actions with virtual effects, while games like Counter Strike or Call of Duty constitute of virtual characters in utmost  real playing environment. Players can easily immense logical game that obeys real rules of physics which combine both virtual and real.

Wii Sports

Call of duty

Games provide a framework allowing us to see things differently. When we talk about games, we will definitely talk about play. Games provide experience of play that reveals people creativity, curiosity and imagination in the fact of moving through, sense the setting and act within it. It involves difficulties and complexities of drawing the relation of objects, actions, perceptions and intentions. According to Steven (2007), people playing well designed games are able to create intrinsic motivation in them. Therefore, it means players a learners as well. Plus, (Vygotsky,1978) mentioned ” Play involves imaginary situations mandatory for learning and child development.” It means that games is a tool that can easily influence people even kids.

Even games obey  four principle of play; needs, desires, personal growth and freedom, Katie Salen mentioned that meaningful play emerges from the interaction between players and the system of the games. (Borries, Walz & Bottger, 2007)
It has somehow put me in a condition of epiphany, where I realized that the video games is not a kid stuff anymore.

How to bring interaction into spatial design

How to adapt those interactions into spatial design ? We could easily draw the relationship if we got the idea of space constitution. What is a space? Based on surveys I have done in my school, Utas School of Architecture, most of the architecture students imagine space with blank 2d or 3d space, leaving behind the forth dimension in reality, time. According to Big Bang theory, time that exist enable us to identify the temporal dimension of phenomenon; before, while and after. Time, a non spatial dimension could not be diminished but could be expanded relative to the motion of light in a space. Time is measured by a phenomenon of physical motion or energy transmission which are related and interchangeable in space.

Why temporal dimension is important in creating space? We have to accept that architectural design seems to focus more on the three dimensions of built space than the temporal dimension that emerges as we start to use the space, due to the traditional design tools of architecture. By considering time, it gives the idea that human movement should be designed as well. People has their typical movement when dealing with objects in a space which is called body schema. Having elements that can extend the possibilities of body movement which obeys the four games principles, it will turn the space into half real space of interaction or  a dynamic space where movement can be unfold.

Lefebre, a French structuralist argues” The city must be place of waste, for one wastes space and time, and everything mustn’t been foreseen and funtional. The most beautiful city was those where festivals were not planned but it was a space where they could unfold.” (Steven, 2007)

People who see the settings would have different perception with people who interact with them. And the people who interact with the settings  would have different experience with people who interact with both, the settings and the other people. Therefore, we can conclude that space generation of phenomena in one undefined space that encourage interactions between people,will construct social relationship between users. Hence, the space can be called as a SOCIAL SPACE.

Of course, it might not happen as designer’s wish, but at least some possibilities can be drawn within the designed ruled space. Different people will bring different perception and therefore different reaction might occur in one PHENOMENOLOGICAL SPACE.

Phenomenological space gives life to architecture

Phenomenological space is an abstract, half real space that challenges possibilities of operation. It exists by senses and presumption, rather normally seen and known. By giving values to the rhythmic movement or body schema due to certain arrangement of ergodic settings, it will turn a space into a dynamic living space where people can investigate and challenge the possibilities continuously.  The player will experience other people’s imagination and perception with self encouragement to explore, and is given opportunity in becoming virtuoso. As mentioned by Stevens (2007), designers should never design the actual play experience, but the framework wherein that experience will take place from the possible interaction.

It is strongly argued by Naos (2000), ” When  human and spatial form(s) relationship become interactive, Architecture comes alive.”
While William S Burroughs quotes ” A body exist to be other bodies.” (Beckmann, 1998)

This creation of space by using unfixed loose elements definitely is a risky proposition with no guaranteed benefits, but as incomplete space, endlessly completed by people who use it.

by Azizul Hakim Musa

Lets think how our architecture can encourage activities like in the video below, a place to remember. Cheers!


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