The philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) has influenced the design work of architects as diverse as Steven Holl and Peter Zumthor, as well as informing renowned schools of architectural theory, notably those around Dalibor Vesely at Cambridge, Kenneth Frampton, David Leatherbarrow and Alberto Pérez-Gómez in North America and Juhani Pallasmaa in Finland. Merleau-Ponty suggested that the value of people’s experience of the world gained through their immediate bodily engagement with it remains greater than the value of understanding gleaned through abstract mathematical, scientific or technological systems.
This book summarizes what Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy has to offer specifically for architects. It locates architectural thinking in the context of his work, placing it in relation to themes such as space, movement, materiality and creativity, introduces key texts, helps decode difficult terms and provides quick reference for further reading.
'The phenomenological features of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of embodiment have today received extensive support by contemporary biological and neuroscientific research. Hale’s book, which highlights and distills the pivotal insights of the French philosopher, is essential reading for every architect who might ponder how people actually perceive their designed environments.' - Harry Francis Mallgrave, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
Series Editor Preface. Acknowledgements. Illustration Credits. Introduction. 1. Embodied Space – It’s Not What You Think 2. Expressive Form – Since Feeling is First 3. Tectonics and Materials – The Flesh of the World 4. Creativity and Innovation – From Spoken to Speaking Speech Postscript. Further Reading. Bibliography. Index
Architects have often looked to thinkers in philosophy and theory to find design ideas or in search of a critical framework for practice. Yet architects, and students of architecture, can struggle to navigate thinkers’ writings. It can be daunting to approach original texts with little appreciation of their contexts. And existing introductions seldom explore architectural material in any detail.
This original series offers clear, quick and accurate introductions to key thinkers who have written about architecture. Each book summarises what a thinker has to offer for architects. It locates their architectural thinking in the body of their work, introduces significant books and essays, helps decode terms and provides quick reference for further reading. If you find philosophical and theoretical writing about architecture difficult, or just don’t know where to begin, this series will be indispensable.
Books in the Thinkers for Architects series come out of architecture. They pursue architectural modes of understanding, aiming to introduce a thinker to an architectural audience. Each author in the series – an architect or an architectural critic – has focussed on a selection of a thinker’s writings which they judge most relevant to designers and interpreters of architecture. Thinkers for Architects has proved highly successful, now with over ten volumes dealing with familiar cultural figures whose writings have influenced architectural designers, critics and commentators in distinctive and important ways. The series continues to expand, addressing an increasingly rich diversity of contemporary thinkers who have something to say to architects.