“I am no prophet, no moralist—I am one who will draw the drapes from the room where men sit and allow them the apprehension of Beauty-sense. Equipped thus, life is glorious! and Art, which espouses Beauty, is the ultimate in, and of, Freedom.”
—Jack Kerouac, “Beauty as a Lasting Truth”
Sarah Robinson’s exploration of the phenomenology of architecture awakens connections neglected or even dismissed in recent popular and architectural culture. It suggests a gentle paradigm shift away from our allegiance to the purely rational and toward a practice more fully centered in human sensibilities and experience. Following in the tradition of Juhani Pallasmaa, Steven Holl, and Alberto Perez-Gomez, Robinson’s intelligent and richly referenced writing is pleasantly accessible. The sublimely lovely book design welcomes us into this critical and timely topic.
If you are a practitioner in the trenches or a student in a studio confronting the commodification of architecture, its meaning, role, and value in society, or how design can begin to heal our world and improve the human condition, read this book. It may go further toward inspiring meaningful solutions than any checklist, building code, design guideline, software application, or robotic fabrication methodology.
I cheer a book that dedicates a chapter to giving Descartes the boot (Chapter 3: “Adieu Descartes”), discusses the role of “play” at the Bauhaus and returns “feeling,” “intuition,” “belonging,” and, yes, “love” to architectural discourse. Through the author’s gentle manner of scholarly presentation and clarity of language, qualities that may seem “unmeasurable” come into focus as the real elements of our experience of architecture. Architecture is very real, precisely because it must be much, much more than the measurable.
Take a hike, Descartes, and take the dark drapes with you.