Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Phenomenological Experience

We spent the majority of the day traveling back to Berlin. On our way we stopped in Wolfsburg to visit Zaha Hadid's Phaeno Museum and two buildings by Alvar Aalto. I enjoyed the form of Zaha Hadid's museum, but there were many disappointments the closer we got to the building. The form work was done with self compacting concrete which in many places didn't cure properly. We were told that this building served as an experiment for self compacting concrete in which the experiment failed. It is probably not evident in the photograph, but there are many plugs that were inserted into the concrete to release excess water and sealed cracks. The exterior was definitely more appealing than the interior. The foundation behind most of Zaha's buildings is form follows function, but I find that there was a lot of wasted space most of her forms. The problem with buildings that are more form based is there are a lot of unresolved details and finishings.
I was most excited about visiting Alvar Aalto's buildings because I have closely studied some of his works. This past year I applied for a traveling fellowship scholarship and he was one of the architects I planned on traveling to study. He is a Finnish architect that is well known for preserving an architecture that offers phenomenological experiences. The spaces he creates evoke a sensual awareness of space. In Wolfsburg, we visited the Cultural Center and Heilig-Geist Kirche. Both of these buildings offered a profound experience of space where a beautiful use of natural light is revealed. The way natural light alluminated these spaces was captivating. Every space we experienced was pleasant with little emphasis on the heirarchical values. He considered every element of the design of significant value where the transition from a hallway to a conference room were both well alluminated. Aside of natural lighting, he also uses vernacular materials. The columns and railing for the stairwell resembled trees in the forest. He has a beautiful was of blending the transition from exterior to interior; where the user remains intimately connected with nature as they experience the spaces. All of these elements create a phenomenological experience of space.

After finishing these tours, we hopped back on the bus and continued to head back to Berlin. We only had about 2 hours left of traveling. It felt good to get back 'home'. I was ready not to live out of a bad anymore, and have internet access.

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