While it may seem strange, the study of various literary selections forms the core of this architecture unit. Again, using the body-sense as a logical starting point for the study of architecture, some of the literature chosen will deal with changes in bodies and egos. Early forays into the area of abstract thinking through the study of the concept of personalization, as well as an understanding of a sense of community, will also center around literature. As much as possible, the study of the three facets mentioned above will be integrated rather than dealt with separately. Our reading and discussion of the literature will easily lead to related theatre and art activities; these activities will be invaluable aids in the study of the haptic and visual senses, personalization and community. The use of the body in theatre games will, I hope, lead to different perceptions in art as well as different viewpoints in discussion. Again, haptic experiences contribute to improved self-concept.
An on-going activity in the unit will be the development of a survey of the buildings in the Wooster Square area. The scale we will most likely use will be “public,” “private,” “forbidding” and “anonymous.” Careful attention will be paid to the narrative of each building we observe. As discussed in seminar, the narrative is the ability of a building to represent ideas other than shelter and practical function. The elements or qualities on our final rating scale will be the result of class discussions and readings and will be subjective (a characteristic of the haptic sense). The survey will be conducted while we’re reading and discussing
Rapoport hypothesizes that buildings and spaces offer nonverbal cues to observers.
In order to “read” the buildings which will be part of our survey, we must rely heavily on the visual sense, since direct observation is called for. The haptic sense would come to the fore as we targeted and interpreted details.
The nonverbal cues a building or space offers can be
, size and shape being the most obvious. Is there graffiti? Are there enclosing elements (fences, hedges) which might be interpreted as barriers? Are there links? Greenery, both controlled and natural, offers valuable cues about how the user (owner, renter) views his/her space. Is the building exposed or hidden? Is the space imposing or does it fade away?
Cues can also be
. A truly complete “reading” of a building or space will include the observation of people: their dress and behavior, age and sex. What types of activities do we find? What provisions are made for shopping? socializing? What objects (signs, billboards, decor) do the social activities give to the area? I would like the class to pay special attention to the social cues, since many students do not live in or near the area we’ll be studying. We will note the religious feasts, the Cherry Blossom Festival and our own school fair. Our school itself has a life after three o’clock; it is often the setting of neighborhood and/or political meetings. Ideally, it serves as a structural link in the neighborhood.