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Architecture and Movement: the Dynamic Experience of Buildings and Landscapes

Peter Blundell Jones and Mark Meagher (Eds)

So often architecture is judged from a single image, and yet we all know that our homes and workplaces are not just facades, but sequences of rooms with purposes and associations. As we enter and leave they divide or unite us, and we register their significance as we move through, remembering it if only to find the way out. This is not just a matter of sight, but of movement of the body using all its other senses, and so we come to terms with buildings and whole cities. It remains important because we learn the world initially as bodies finding our way through physical space, and still we need to find ‘our place’ in the world. Yet movement in architecture is a curiously neglected subject, picked up by some architects as a significant experience, but more often treated as mere ‘circulation’. The increasing availability of artificial light and air conditioning over the past century has produced many hermetic and directionless environments, forcing us to put up with blind corridors and closed lifts that anaesthetise all sense of vertical progression, and we are obliged to navigate by signs and numbers rather than spatial memory. In the outside world, streets are planned for vehicles and efficient traffic flow, displacing pedestrians and forcing drivers to go north in order to go south, while by-passes and ring roads have destroyed the recognisable integrity of towns. The satnav arrived just in time to help us out of our confusion, but if it pinpoints our position more precisely than ever before, it provides no context, no sense of relationship with the landscape. The increasing influence of television, computer games, and digital projections has meanwhile fuelled a confusion between real and virtual space, despite the fact that we remain embodied, need to eat and drink and sleep, and still live essentially in the physical world. In a series of essays taking a wide range of viewpoints, Architecture and Movement addresses these issues, seeking to re-establish ‘on foot’ as the primary experience, and drawing attention to spatial memory as our main means of location. It includes statements by major architects about their intentions as well as pre-architectural cases of spaces devised for social rituals, and the discovery of found or accidental spaces. It also discusses the thorny problem of how physical space can be represented in order to be discussed.

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