Evoking Reactions

By: Tyler Norton

What should be the main goal that architecture aims to accomplish? Adolf Loos once said, “Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect’s task therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.” Some would disagree with Loos. Many think that sustainability, function, and form, among others, should be the main focus. While these are all important aspects of architecture, I agree with Mr. Loos. Architecture should be all about tailoring to people’s wants and needs and seeking a reaction from each individual who experiences the building. Without the individual, there is no reason for architecture to exist. There are plenty of examples of buildings that do just that and each architect accomplishes this fundamental goal in different ways.

One building that does a beautiful job of triggering a reaction is Le Corbusier’s Beistegui apartment. This work has a distinct surrealist style, especially the garden area. By definition, the aim of surrealism is to evoke emotion by stimulating the subconscious. The Beistegui garden does this in multiple ways. For instance, surrealism focuses on the incorporation of spontaneity, the emphasis on irrational, and representing things as they usually aren’t. The fireplace located in the garden meets all of these qualifications. The fireplace is irrational because a fireplace would never actually be found outside except in surrealist architecture. Le Corbusier generates a reaction from the individual by provoking the subconscious through surrealism.

Although it is not technically architecture, Maurice Nio’s 2004 Touch of Evil project is another example of architects evoking reactions from the public. The point of this project was to give expression to the technical spaces throughout cities and to bring life to a normally anonymous space. The red plastic covering the otherwise completely gray space provides and unexpected relief from the normally monotonous continuity of the city’s technical space. This evokes surprise from the viewer and invites creativity and imagination. As mentioned in class, the structure could not be changed; it just had to be added to. Therefore, Nio had to get creative. Instead of changing the architecture, he had to change the way people perceived the space. As well as provided unexpected relief, he also added the sense of touch to the experience. People are able to feel the texture of the red covering, which in turn adds to the moment. All and all, the way that Nio artfully induces a reaction from the individual is by changing the perception of the area.

            The final example that I would like to talk about is the Moses Bridge by RO&AD architects. Aside from being inventive and aesthetically appealing, it is also a great example of architecture that creates a reaction. It is interesting even to people who have no background in architecture. It evokes emotion and delight from the visual aspect but it is also very well thought out and focuses on the local culture and history. The bridge was designed to be “invisible” because the area was originally a fort and the architects wanted to keep the idea of a moat separating the enemies. Another way that the bridge connects to the individual is the idea of Moses. With the Biblical reference, it further evokes emotion from the viewer.
            In conclusion, all three of these examples seek to create a reaction by stimulating the subconscious, changing perception, and evoking emotion respectively. This is important because the reaction of the viewer is what connects architecture to its target audience: the individual. Without the individual, architecture would have no purpose. That is why the main goal of architecture should always be to focus on the reaction of the person experiencing it.


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