Sight: ‘retinal architecture’
Hearing: ‘acoustic intimacy’
Smell: ‘space of scent’
Touch: ‘shape of touch’
Taste: ‘taste of architecture’
Movement (vestibular): ‘images of muscle and bone’
Bodily awareness (proprioception): ‘bodily identification’
Once again, Juhani Pallasmaa pushes our thought boundaries even higher when he came up with the seven senses of architecture. It almost seemed like it was a bizarre concept to accept at first, as we’re all used to just five senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste which are updated with movement and bodily awareness when it comes to architecture. In this article, i will neither agree nor disagree with Juhani Pallasma, nonetheless, i’ll explain each of the 5 senses we’re familiar with briefly, then go in-depth about the two new senses we’ve now become aware about.
When it comes to the sense of smell, one of the strongest senses we have, for it is directly linked to our memory, humans are able to recall a place from a particular smell. Moving on to the sense of touch, “The door handle is the handshake of the building” was one of the lines that summed up the sense of touch in the architecture world. A person is able to feel the texture, weight, density and temperature of surfaces with a gentle stroke. With a quick gaze upon the surface a human can instantly identify the tactility of a surface, therefore the sense of sight and touch are very closely related (Pallasmaa, J.). Sight/Vision is associated to the sense of taste. Pallasmaa argues that you’re able to sense the gentle coldness of a delicately polished stone surface with your tongue by using your visual sense. When it comes to hearing, Pallasmaa suggests the idea that tranquility is the key experience of architecture. The experience of the hearing sense in architecture in theory is linked to time, silence and solitude. The commotion of building resolves in utter silence and solitude (Pallasmaa, J.).
The sense of bodily awareness’ theory is that just as a bird frames its nest, our body reacts to the surrounding space genuinely, for instance, our body naturally has the ability to measure the steps we take before climbing a staircase, shift sideways as we go through a tight door, or feel spaciousness within when walking through an infinite park. Bodily identification in architecture is about the self-consciousness and awareness of a person within a space which consequently affects how we experience a building (Pasqualini, Llobera, and Blanke, 2013). Movement, balance, distance and scale are felt by architects unconsciously within their skeleton, muscular system and inner organs.
Pallasmaa’s seven senses idea truly gave a great insight on how architecture affects our senses, and his addition of the two senses truly only works in the world of architecture, but with that being said, his mythological theories always serve to a great knowledge on space.
Pallasmaa, J. (no date) An architecture of seven senses. Available at: https://marywoodthesisresearch.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/an-architecture-of-the-seven-senses_pallasmaa.pdf (Accessed: 24 February 2017)
Pasqualini, I., Llobera, J. and Blanke, O. (2013) ‘“Seeing” and “feeling” architecture: How bodily self-consciousness alters architectonic experience and affects the perception of interiors’, Frontiers in psychology., 4.