Architecture has often defined itself in terms of other disciplines such as art, philosophy, sociology, linguistics, and semiotics. This weakens its core as an autonomous discipline. The unique core activity that architecture undertakes is the ordering and scaling of space. We are concerned about how one senses the spaces of architecture: the order, enclosure, and gradations of scale and texture that create a sense of where one is within architecture. We are interested in exploring the ways in which spatial order can create experiential richness and the potential for multiple perceptions and conceptions of space.
Meaning in Architecture
We must not egotistically assume that meaning in architecture is solely a direct consequence of the intentions of the architect. Meaning is a process that begins after the architect’s job is over, and is primarily a product of the way in which architecture is inhabited, day after day, year after year. This inhabitation breeds memories which make the place meaningful, and one has to design to facilitate a culture of inhabitation that leads to the building of memory. Given that this aesthetic power develops over time, we seek to transcend the aesthetic of expression that has often been the obsession of architects, and aim for an aesthetic of absorption.
The Practice as a Place
Given that architecture is achieved through professional practice, we strive for a clear notion of what practice is. We seek to go beyond personality-centric models of practice: while this model has produced a great deal of wonderful architecture, it does little for the profession as it breeds a culture of heroes and imitators. While we realise that to negate personality is an error, to remain at the level of personality is a greater error. We therefore seek a model that is passionate about design, but is driven by ideas rather than personalities. We visualize the practice as a sheltered and collaborative place for reflection, where a community (including clients and other collaborators) can reflect on how to enrich life through architecture. We focus on how the practice as a place can enhance this core activity of reflection, and document the traces of reflection so that they enrich subsequent reflection.
The Poetics of Architecture
A fundamental human impulse is to seek meaning in life, and we find it in a level of reality that is higher than that of everyday routine. It does not matter whether one finds it in art, music, nature, or spiritual beliefs: the point is to connect with a dimension of life that rises above the mundane. To connect with this dimension is to live life poetically. We seek an architecture that makes such transcendental connections. We draw on the energy inherent in site, climate, nature, light, and inhabitation; and realise that poetic meaning cannot come from abstract philosophy and can only be known experientially. Architecture must speak for itself. The spirit of architecture is eternal, and every work is an attempt to connect with this spirit.