Architecture and place: a critical look at how they interact and influence each other through definition, creation, and representation

Kief, Elizabeth
Major Professor
Michael Muecke
Committee Member
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Architecture cannot float while confined in the Earth's atmosphere. It exists in a physical reality that humans interact with, experience, and inhabit. Architecture is what helps us define place, and it can be influenced by place in return. An understanding of place -- in all its aspects -- is necessary to understand architecture. In this thesis I will examine how we define "place" and how we can create and represent it. The final goal is to explore the possibility of Place through architectural means and provoke discussion about the current relationship between architecture and Place.

I have separated my research into seven categories under three headings, each of which focus on a particular aspect of the relationship between place and architecture. The first group of categories falls under simply (A) Place. The sections are: (1) Architecture and Place, which defines `place' as well as puts forward the initial assumptions on the importance of place to architecture; (2) Space and Cognition, which draws from previous research on how spatial perception affects the use of architectural space and the psychological effects of a particular place. This section also discusses the ability of Architecture to define Place.

Heading (B) Place Creation starts with (3) Defining Place, an in-depth analysis of St. Ivo's in Rome, Italy, from five different perspectives -- Historical, Experiential, Formal, Activist, and Symbolic -- with the goal of determining how Place might define Architecture in contrast to the previous section; (4) Atmosphere, Light and the Senses, discusses how perception through the five senses currently is applied to architectural theory as well as comparisons of multiple distinctive approaches to architecture and the surrounding environment. Finally, (5) "Fake" Place, is a literary analysis of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities and the discussion of creating place without a physical reality.

The final heading discusses the implication of (C) Place Representation, through the section (6) Writing, which continues this discussion with a focus on how architecture and place are created and represented through media by non-architects and for non-architectural purposes; and (7) Images, analysis the methods of representation most commonly used by architects. Both sections will contain a brief look at the history of different media in architecture and their build-up into practices that are used today. How is Place currently represented in architecture? And should this be changed?