Environment, Space, Place

Environment, Space, Place: Volume 1, Issue 1 (Spring 2009)

Environment, Space, Place: Volume 1, Issue 1 (Spring 2009)

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SKU: 978-973-1997-25-4-G

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Language: English
Periodicity: Yearly edition
Buying Options: Paperback

ISBN: 978-973-1997-24-7 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-973-1997-25-4 (ebook)





William Behun, To the Center of the Sky:Heidegger, Polar Symbolism, and Christian Sacred Architecture
Heidegger’s sense of the holy is an important aspect of his thought, especially in the form that it takes in his later work.  By juxtaposing Heidegger’s thinking on the sacred with traditional metaphysician René Guénon’s examination of the symbolism of the sacred pole, we can bring both elements into clearer focus.  This paper undertakes to draw together these two radically disparate thinkers not to undermine either’s project, but rather to demonstrate one way in which the sacred can be more thoroughly understood, especially in light of our increasing disregard for the experience of the divine in the modern world.  The Heideggerian event of the sacred is played out in a way that is uniquely informed by polar symbols in the architecture of the great gothic cathedrals, and these prove to be a site for the opening up of the holy within space.  When these elements are drawn together, they serve to reciprocally inform one another, deepening our understanding of the performative and spatial dimensions of our experience of the divine and opening the possibility of a relationship with God that is not bound by onto-theological constructions of Godhead. 
Emiliano Trizio, Built-Spaces for World-Making  

The aim of this article is to contribute to the understanding of the relations existing between, on the one hand, some specific types of built-spaces and, on the other, the manner in which man belonging to a given culture defines a particular way of conceiving and inhabiting the world. The interdependence between the forms of the construction of the human environment and the intellectual and practical articulation of social life has been the object of numerous researches. The focus of this analysis will be, more specifically, on built-spaces that play a decisive role in the shaping of both the forms or orientation of collective life and the underlying worldviews, built-spaces that, in virtue of this two-fold function, deserve to be called world-making. The approach will be diachronical and comparative. I will first reconstruct, on the basis of phenomenology-inspired reading of Mircea Eliade’s works, the representative as well as orientative function of sacred built-space within certain religious traditions and its relations with a specific conception of the world in general and of the earth-sky relation in particular. Subsequently, I will show that the overthrow of these cosmological and metaphysical beliefs during the scientific revolution, has deprived sacred space of its original meaning, while rendering at once possible and necessary a completely new type of built-space, the laboratory, which exerts, in an utterly different way, a world-making function. In this way, this article develops yet another comparison between the religious conception of the relation between man and the world, and the conception issued by the modern scientific and technological development.

Mark H. Dixon, The Architecture of Solitude

As a spiritual or meditative practice solitude implies more than mere silence or being alone. While these are perhaps indispensable components, it is possible to be alone or to live in silence and nevertheless be unable to reconfigure these into genuine solitude. Solitude is also more than being in some remote or inaccessible place. Even though geographical isolation might be conducive to solitude, with rare exceptions human beings have seldom sought solitude in complete seclusion in the wilderness. The places where human beings have sought solitude have in the end been human places, human-built places. It should come as no surprise then that through architecture humans beings have sought to build solitude, to construct, through stone and glass and wooden structures, places that are conducive to and encourage solitude. Such structures include individual hermitages, monasteries, temples and even cathedrals. In each case the purpose is to translate or reconfigure a natural geographical place into a space, a human space, where solitude as a spiritual or meditative practice becomes possible. What the individual sojourner brings to the experience is an inner openness to the architecture, to the natural environment and to the spiritual realm which interweave to create solitude.  This paper examines (1) the spiritual need to experience solitude, (2) what it is that solitude requires and (3) the endeavor to create solitude through architecture and the challenges it poses to both architecture and spiritual practice. In particular the paper explores and compares solitude's architectural expression in three Medieval Christian monastic orders – the Camaldolesce Order, the Carthusian Order and the Cistercian Order. Despite their common heritage these orders realize solitude, as an essential spiritual value, through unique architectural expressions.

Michael Wenisch, Peak Oil, Energy Limits,and Resulting Alterations in the Built Space of the United States

Over and above the probable peaking of worldwide oil production as a current reality, the arrival of hard limits on all energy resources is very much nearer in the future than many people realize.  The public discourse on Peak Oil and the associated arrival of hard limits on energy availability has attracted more than its share of brilliant and creative minds.  In addition to scientific and technical analysts, this group includes a fair number of generalists who have engaged in broader forms of reflection upon the likely economic, social, political, and cultural effects of Peak Oil and other hard energy limits on the structure of current world civilization.  In this paper, I select for examination three such generalists who are both especially talented and widely read by those having an interest in this topic: James Howard Kunstler, John Michael Greer, and Dmitri Orlov.  My intention is to survey their central ideas in turn, with a view to forming a reasonably well-developed and concrete notion as to how the impending arrival of hard limits on energy consumption will affect the structure of built space in coming decades.  I focus both on the macro-infrastructural level and on what one might term the micro-infrastructural level of the built space within which the denizens of contemporary industrial civilization live their daily lives.  The principal focus of the discussion will be on the situation in the United States, though many of the lines of argument presented may be applied much more broadly if suitably adjusted in light of locally prevailing conditions elsewhere.

Kascha Semon, The Habit of Inhabitation:Rethinking Digital Design via Merleau-Ponty and Proust

Drawing on the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, this paper describes the role of habit in the cycle of preconfiguration and reconfigurion of place in architectural practice, especially in the design of homes – les habitations – in which habit and inhabitation intertwine. In this paper, Proust’s novel provides the primary examples of the intertwining of habit and inhabitation.  Proust shows us that an artist (or architect) acquires a relation to a prefigured place into which she or he is already thrown and can only reshape that world from the inside out, not the top down. The paper provides an overview of the influence of place in Proust’s novel, then relate these examples to Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on place, along the way considering Merleau-Ponty’s brief mentions of architecture and whether we can justifiably apply his painting-based aesthetics to architecture.  Finally, the paper suggests what this might mean for architectural design practice, especially for new digital tools that use gesture to better reflect an embodied relation to place. The program of the paper is to trace the origin of “program” – in its architectural sense of the use-structure of a building and its mediation by habits and inhabitation in the design process. The design process –  right down to whether or not architects use pens and pencils or digital tools —must come up for revision if phenomenological evidence (both literary and philosophical) is truly to transform the practice.


Randy Laist, “The Style of What is to Come”:Representations of the World Trade Center in the Novels of Don DeLillo

Since the very week of September 11, 2001, commentators have remarked on the apparent clairvoyance evidenced in the novels of the American writer Don DeLillo. DeLillo’s novels have always represented the Twin Towers as gargantuan symbols of latent catastrophe. The towers have been significant to DeLillo as a particularly gargantuan representation of the manner in which modern mass-consciousness expresses itself in the form of material technologies. Throughout his career, DeLillo has described the World Trade Center not only as a physical structure, but as a kind of schematic of the future of the culture that created it. In the lines and angles of the towers, DeLillo seems to discern the “lines of intentionality” inherent in the culture of advanced technology itself, and traces them out to the conclusions toward which they seem to lead. In this paper, I will examine the manner in which DeLillo has “read” the World Trade Center as an architectural confession of a distinctly American wish to negate the human scale, to make the world over as an artificial environment, and to look forward to the surpassing of bodily and social existence. In four novels written before 9/11, DeLillo crafts an image of the World Trade Center as a sculptural representation of America’s own will to self-destruction and in his most recent novel, Falling Man, DeLillo illustrates the kind of existence that lies on the other side of this self-destruction. 

Roger Paden, Historical Paradigms for Ecotourism
Ecotourism has been defined in a number of possibly incompatible ways, such as travel to especially wonderful natural sites, as a form of educational travel, and as sustainable tourism. These various understandings of ecotourism can be used to ground a number of different kinds of natural area policies. In particular they can ground a number of policies concerning the management of the many National Parks in the United States. In this paper, in order to assess these policies, I distinguish several different understandings of “ecotourism” and discuss the kinds of park management programs that might be based on them. In the course of this discussion, I examine the history of tourism in Europe in order to develop other notions of ecotourism, including two based on the idea of pilgrimage. To clarify this last idea of ecotourism, I examine religious pilgrimage and several ideas of nature taken from the Romantic Movement in Europe and the Transcendentalist movement in the United States, as seen in the work of Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, and Ansel Adams. 
Glen A. Mazis, Touring as Authentically Embodying Placeand a New World at a Glance
The critique of tourism as being only a distanced, detached, and consumerist passing through of foreign landscapes and cultures is disputed in this essay. The idea that tourism necessarily fits the paradigm of inauthenticity as the tranquilized and alienated hopping from spot to spot in prepackaged, superficial presentations is contrasted with another sense of tourism as drawing upon the potential power of the glance to disrupt the everyday, to focus on the particular, to be surprised by the new, and to bodily join up with the rhythms of place being as shifting. Authenticity is seen in both Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty to be primarily about a greater bodily awareness of surround and transformation of the self as an ongoing process of “selving” that yields a more singular sense of who one is in relationship to places and their interconnectedness. To gain a better sense of oneself in one own being or uniqueness is to gain more meaning through emplacement within the surround. The glance at a new world can open up an “interplace” which expands and deepens the sense of who we are in the interconnection and reverberations among places.
Shane J. Ralston, The Ebb and Flow of Primary and Secondary Experience: Kayak Touring and John Dewey’s Metaphysics of Experience
John Dewey’s metaphysics of experience has been criticized by a number of philosophers—most notably, George Santayana and Richard Rorty. While mainstream Dewey scholars agree that these critical treatments fail to treat the American Pragmatist’s theory of what exists on its own terms, there has still been some difficulty reaching consensus on what the casual reader should take away from the pages of Experience and Nature, Dewey’s seminal work on naturalistic metaphysics. So, how do we unearth the significance of Dewey’s misunderstood metaphysics? One way is for philosophers to look to spatial and social-cultural geographers for help. To fully grasp the movement of experience, these geographers recommend that we start with an experiential activity, such as touring. The activity of sea kayak touring, I contend, discloses the general movement of experience in Dewey’s metaphysics between its primary and secondary phases. With this illustration and a closely connected metaphor, I demonstrate that Dewey’s naturalized metaphysics can not only withstand the objections of the likes of Santayana and Rorty, it can also assist us in gaining a deeper appreciation of the qualitative richness of our own day-to-day practices. 


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