RITUALIZING EXPERIENCE_ thesis statement 1.0

Our current paradigm within the profession of architecture remains fundamentally aligned with that of modernism. It is my contention that modernism is the celebration of the efficient, the progressive, and the rational. Operating within this paradigm has reduced the use of sensory, experiential, or ‘raw’ materials, in favor of materials that embody the same zeitgeist as the modernist view. Materials that can be mechanized, mass produced, and pumped out of a factory for quick application. The problem with this approach, is it has suffocated the materiality of experience; or the ‘raw’. ‘Raw’ materials require little heating, beating, or treating and represent a product, which remains most closely tied to its place of extraction. For example, the ‘raw’ is embodied in a fallen branch in the woods, a quarried stone, which still retains the surface texture inherited through years of erosion or other geological processes, or adobe, which still holds the sedimentary nature of the earth from which it was gleaned. As these materials are increasingly used less and less in favor of mechanized materials, like drywall, sheetrock, and plastic, our buildings and spaces decrease their potential to embody meaning.

There are a select group of projects that cater to “the experience” or phenomenology by incorporating the 'raw', but these projects are surprisingly few, and are seemingly isolated to specific geographic locales. Many of these projects exist in the rural or backwater areas of the globe, traditionally isolated from the productive and populated cities of the industrialized world. Why does this happen? Is it a fundamental law of a phenomenological approach that, in order for a designer to pursue this type of thinking in architecture, their creation must exist away from the urban core, containing relatively minimal program? Or, is there a way to create architecture, which puts phenomenology at the fore, and in doing so, provide both a sensory experience and function for the denizens of our urban centers? Or does the process of designing for experience meet head to head with the fundamental rationality and function born of modernism?

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