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Extracts from The Eyes of the Skin by J. Pallasmaa

posted Mar 24, 2011, 9:19 AM by Patricia Martin
I recently read Pallasmaa's book The Eyes of the Skin and would like to share some of the statements I liked most.

Architecture, as with all art, is fundamentally confronted with questions of human existence in space and time, it expresses and relates man’s being in the world.

Our bodies and movements are in constant interaction with the environment; the world and the self inform and redefine each other constantly.

Instead of an existentially grounded plastic and spatial experience, architecture has adopted the psychological strategy of advertising and instant persuasion; buildings have turned into image products detached from existential depth and sincerity.

Contemporary architecture posing as the avant-garde, is more often engaged with the architectural discourse itself and mapping the possible marginal territories of the art than responding to human existential questions. This reductive focus gives rise to a sense of architectural autism, an internalized and autonomous discourse that is not grounded in our shared existential reality.

I confront the city with my body; my legs measure the length of the arcade and the width of the square; my gaze unconsciously projects my body onto the facade of the cathedral, where it roams over the mouldings and contours, sensing the size of recesses and projections; my body weight meets the mass of the cathedral door, and my hand grasps the door pull as I enter the dark void behind. I experience myself in the city and the city exists through my embodied experience. The city and the body supplement and define each other. I dwell in the city and the city dwells in me.

Architecture strengthens the existential experience, one’s sense of being in the world, and this is essentially a strengthened experience of self.

The body is not a mere physical entity; it is enriched by both memory and dream, past and future.

Perception, memory and imagination are in constant interaction; the domain of presence fuses into images of memory and fantasy.

Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world, and this mediation takes place through the senses.