The Study on The Perception and Experience in Architecture Based on Architectural Phenomenology: A Sensory Institute on The Firth of Thames River

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Sensory Laboratories Hybrid Conceptual Drawing

Modernist design at large has housed the intellect and the eye, but it has left the body and the other senses, as well as our memories, imagination and dreams, homeless.1 

With the rise of various contemporary social media, the design of architecture has gradually been dominated by the visual aesthetic without much concern for other senses and the actual perception and experience of the users. However, the space occupied by the visual has suppressed the most crucial thing for us, which is the spatial experience that we are invited to. 

Consequently, this thesis argues that phenomenology underpinnings are deeply rooted within the field of architectural design, and architecture has the responsibility to offer people places in which they can become aware of their bodies, of their own emotions and perceptions in the presence of nature.

[1] Pallasmaa, Juhani. The eyes of the skin: architecture and the senses. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

“Architecture is essentially an extension of nature into the man-made realm, providing the ground for perception and the horizon of experiencing and understanding the world.”2

[2] Pallasmaa, Juhani. The eyes of the skin: architecture and the senses. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

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Early Concept Collaging_ Expressing Inspiration and Concept through Collage Drawings

Disentangling architectural design from the mere retinal art of the eye underpins the motivation of this thesis. Analysing how the elements of architectural space stimulate the sensory perception of the experiencer to achieve communication with space and place beyond vision is the central research question of this study.

Creative Processes & Media Production [ Method and Methodology ]

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Site Perceptual Exploration _ These site analysis maps build on the previous experiments and observational studies, incorporating the unique geographic, environmental, and ecological characteristics of the Thames River. Attempting to use this more comprehensive lens to investigate the emotional and ecological messages conveyed by the site.
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Physical Models and Concept Explorations_ This part is about a series of conceptual explorations of physical elements and materiality. The process attempts to explore the connections between nature, materials, human body, and the senses in the context of previous precedents and theoretical investigations, and simultaneously to integrate and translate the collected sensory information into my own phenomenology language of architectural design.

The project proposes a design of a sensory institute to analyse the connection between architectural elements and the body perception of the experiencer through a series of sensory laboratory facilities. Trialists, visitors, and residents will experience different environments depending on the purpose of their stay, leading to experimental explorations of sensory study.

Design Proposition _ The Sensory Laboratories on The Firth of Thames River

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Sound Laboratory One_ Music of The Tide. About Sound and The Sense of Place
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Sound Laboratory Two_ A Large Reverberant Instrument. About Material, Reverberation, Space, and The Sound Presentation
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Sound Laboratory Three_ The Sound Communication Station. About the intimacy, connectivity and communication of sound
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Tactile Laboratory One_ Microclimatic Visitor Garden. About Architectural Microclimate and Passive tactile perception
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Tactile Laboratory Two_ Secure Observation Cabin. About Architectural Materials and Active tactile perception
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Smell and Taste Laboratory One_ A space of memories. About the smell, taste, and specific memories