Inspired by the talks of Yo Yo Ma I was compelled to write the following article.
I was thinking that in the use of music in bringing people and cultures together that this could also apply to architecture, giving people an opportunity to meet, be it at work or during leisure time.
What we see now is just the opposite, using the information technology to make people ‘independent’. Fine, so we don’t have to fill up our brains with facts and much learning can be done using the laptop. Curiously, but not surprisingly, a teacher in India – Sugata Mitra – noticed that one laptop per child with say four students, got better results than with each child having a laptop. Children like to share ideas and, having a vivid curiosity, were in fact teaching each other.
We have been destroying our cities and neighbourhoods by separating all activities, be it learning, shopping, making objects, sports or entertainment, with the result that if we need to do something outside our house, we need some kind of transportation to reach it. Needless to say how difficult it is to meet somebody in a traffic jam, not to mention time lost during those moments we won’t be able to produce anything.
Let us also not forget that the creation of spaces – be it urbanistic or architectural – in our age has fallen totally into the hands of the property speculator. And, if not so, then it has become a game of creating something different; what has not been seen before. Or it has to be bigger or higher or visually unusual.
Would there be another way of ‘doing’ architecture? Yes, and it has been done for ages.
A musician playing creates emotions in the listener – so the same could be said of an architect creating forms out of spaces, which moves the people being in there. This part of design is also called Feng Shui in China. A part of that has arrived in the West and has been applied to Interior Design. However, the main idea of Feng Shui is to make the architect aware of the feelings of the people going from one space into another.
Once a Zen monk showed me how to enter a space – depending on the location of the door one should use either the left or the right foot first to enter. If not done correctly, one feels uncertain in the space and needs more time to adjust and get comfortable.
This is just a very simple example. In Feng Shui 4 different types of emotions are addressed when laying out an architectural plan: Qui, Chen, Chuan and Heh. Just like a composer, the designer can arrange spaces in order to call forth these emotions. Using these ‘tools’ the urbanist or architect has been offered a different approach to make a design. Moreover it makes the task more pleasurable and the resulting spaces create more possibilities for happiness.
Johan van Lengen, 03 March 2011