Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture: Understanding Christian Norberg Schulz Examples


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Each location has its very own distinctive characteristics. Romans interpreted “genius loci” as a spirit of a place space. It uses “locations as distinctive atmosphere” . Phenomenology was a significant development in Philosophy worked upon broadly by Edmund Husserl in the 19th century. Phenomenology as a philosophical enquiry was critique of philosophy itself, it functioned as an unadulterated science and expressed that all other philosophical controls. His works enlivened a large group of consequent logicians, one of whom was Martin Heidegger. As indicated by the International Journal of Architecture and Urban Development ‘Heidegger changed Phenomenology into a methods for the scrutinizing of philosophical customs.’Heidegger’s works enlivened researchers from a wide cluster of fields and Christian Norberg Schulz was among the spearheading ones to apply Phenomenology to Architecture. Morden design accept that a house is a machine to live in and that’s it! Schulz clarifies through Genius Loci, that the experience a one feels in a spot or a city can’t be clarified however felt with every one of our faculties. He accepted that post pioneer modelers like Robert Venturi and Louis Kahn were the nearest to achieve involvement with a space through their design.

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“Architecture means to visualise the genius loci, and the task of the architecture is to create meaningful places. Whereby he helps man to dwell” . From the River Soar, clock tower, cathedrals, demolished castle and new walk all has a special location to “dwell” . Analysing the map of Leicester from different error has a reflection on the meaning of “genius loci”. The midpoint of the most productive part of Leicester, the clock tower has an effective location. It was built in 1867 and finished in 1868. The previous dwell was a house and it was demolished to solve the traffic congestion. The centre point was used as “ ‘gathering’ means that things are brought together, that is, that they are moved from one place to another”. Leicester was an industrial city, therefore different purposes around the city moves to a midpoint as being gathered. “The essence of settlement consists in gathering and gathering means that different meanings are brought together”. Dwelling has not been done randomly, vegetation and nature has been balanced during the stage of dwelling. “alienation is in our opinion first of all due to man’s loss of identification with the natural and manmade things which constitute his environment”. Leicester is scattered with historic buildings which has a marriage with art and religion which eventually expands dwelling in importance space.

Cathedrals are parallel with the river soar. Orientation maybe is the reason for this, so humans can have an image of their location. “my aim is therefore to investigate the psychic implication of architecture rather than its practical side” . The genius loci in this implies how dwelling in a certain pattern have a deeper reason to it. St Mary de Castro church, Leicester cathedral and St Margaret are all aligned with the river. The railway tracks are parallel with the canal. Canal and river are identified as transportation. In ancient Egypt, the river is used majorly for transporting goods and people. In Prague it use as to separate and simplify areas. Being the same axis could have a deeper meaning to it towards the genius loci, orientation and sectioning would be one of the reasons. Another example is the clock tower, it is aligned from the west bridge (river soar) to the Leicester cathedral to the tower. “god separates the dry and from the water”, mythological aspect was used in genius loci. It infers water guides people from the axis and the direction of the stream; therefore, it shouldn’t be touched. The lack of vegetation in the centre may disorientate people. “two psychological function involved maybe called orientation and identification……to know where he is….. with environment” . However, vegetation is used around the site (new walk). New walk is isolated to the centre part of town. Therefore, vegetation is needed to orientate people; no clock towers or cathedral. Around New Walk have two lands of vegetation, the oval and de Montfort square. Original buildings are kept to retain it past. The Nonconformist Proprietary school in 1830 building still remains, which is now the town museum. However the lost of genius loci is, taking out the purpose of the pavilion which was a path to the racecourse during the 1800s. New walk have kept the “nature conservation” (Norber-Schulz, 1980), array of tree gliding through the pavilion has kept the spiritual effect from nature which has a strong genius loci to it.

“To build, to plant, whatever you intend,

To rear the Column, or the Arch to bend,

To swell the Terras, or sink the Grot;

In all, let Nature never be forgot.

Consult the Genius of the Place in all

That tells the water or to rise, or fall….

Johns willing woods, and varies shades from shades

Now Breaks, or now directs, th’intending Lines;

Paints as you plant, and as you work, Designs” (Turner, 2012)

Alexander Pope is inferring this towards the use of nature, reason and classical civilization. The verse infers to genius loci in England. Various cities in England are mirrored within each other in those elements in the verse.

Phenomenology will be the trigger to achieve the “genius loci”. Understanding Christian Norberg Schulz examples and explanation of the use of genius loci dissolves the spirit element of the reason to dwell. How the world, atmosphere and even space reflect on human beings of how they should live. To achieve that, architecture and town plans must have a reasonable structure to match with the landscape and its surroundings. Religion and astronomy reason structures land in a format. He used ancient Egypt as a primary source of how genius loci is developed to today. Leicester has a limit towards genius loci. Same axis and mass area of vegetation reflected strongly towards the concept. Overall, the world structured themselves with reasonable terms and genius loci is one of them.

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