pleasure in architecture

Chad Alexander Smith | March 4, 2014

I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that proved to be meaningless.

Eccelesiates 2:1

The ideology presented in the following article is not new.  The essay is a conscious effort to narrow ideas and produce a specific understanding of an existing phenomenon: pleasure in architecture.

Why are we motivated to do, as architects, the things we do?

Pleasure is an agreeable sensation or emotion.  It is sensual or mental gratification.  In the Classical notion, pleasure is obtained when becoming one with the great harmony of the universe, expressed through proportions.  Thus, experience becoming a personal encounter - the point at which one discovers proportion.  The sensation is dependent on experience, but not limited to the physical environment.

Pleasure can also be derived or taken in from personal confrontation, engaging in intense discussion.  Certain mechanics are in operation currently and historically in architecture challenging the traditional notion of pleasure in architecture.  If architecture is of the physical world, as something one can pass through, that becomes tangible, then where do we place alternative architecture.  Today, architects have to deal with monuments.  These monuments, however, are not limited to the study of certain buildings, but rather include architects, critics, schools, journals, and books.

This contamination of the text, can for some be seen as the demise of architecture, and for others its liberation.  According to Abraham Maslow, behaviorists and psychoanalysts see human beings as being engaged in a never-ending struggle to remove internal tension or make up for some deficit. Maslow called these deficiency needs; in all these cases, we experience a lack and want to find it.

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