reflections on a present past thought

August 18, 2019

An infatuation with timelines has come about for me. Cause and effect of the moments on this timeline.

History never grabbed me. Could never understand why I had to remember that The Great Depression was in 1929...that thought alone is so depressing why should I remember that it happened. 
But there was a cause and that was the effect. If we do not learn from that experience it  could happen again.

I am much more interested in the why it happened, but the time of when it happened is important too.

It is important because the men and women that were a part of this, were a specific age, in a specific age; a specific movement. They had a certain maturity. A certain thought that made them think and act in a certain way. They had been through experiences to get them to this point. Knowing the time gives you an inkling into their circumstance, the cause of why this person or society acted (or did not act) which made this moment in history. And just maybe, you will then understand a bit more about the effect.



Trying to align myself to a specific movement or thought made me look at where I have been and where I want to go. What will be my cause and effect? With the studying of master architects and seeing at what age they graduated, when they got their first big break, how they were influenced by the time they were in and by whom, makes one competitive. Makes me ask what age or movement am I in now and how will it be written about and described looking back. This made me look back at my thesis where I had a specific thought. 

Endeavours through the ages was the timeline I created then as a basis to see where man has been and where we are going. This thesis was written in 2013 so the information filled in was what was present at the time, with predictions made further down the line. Some of these predictions were spot on, where others that were thought to happen later, are already happening now. 


The thought was an abstract one at first. 

The Design of an Archive for Sensory Energy: 


In the time of a fictional, future, seemingly techno-utopian world, energy is currency.
Bio-mechanical augmentations have become one of the optimum devices for harvesting energy. Humanity is ever trying to transcend perception and has entered into an era of ‘sensory reductivism’ (Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, 2005, p. 32) followed by a separation of one’s self with the world.
The hegemony of vision that is perpetuated by technological advances has diminished the exploration of the other senses in terms of everyday life occurrences for the aspiration of wealth in energy. With the built environment becoming a machined system for living in, to acquire sustainability, how can the phenomenology of architecture be preserved? 

Vision alone excludes us from the world, where if touch at least is added, connectivity is achieved. This Archive for Sensory Energy hopes to preserve this phenomenon.
We identify ourselves with a time and place and associate a feeling to that place, “Identification and orientation are primary aspects of man’s being in the world” (Norberg-Schulz, 1980, p. 22). How will society identify themselves with the objects/spaces of the sensory archive? They need to identify themselves as sensory, sensual beings thereby returning to an orientation towards ‘being in the world’ and not just plugged into a machine.


With modernity and the Enlightenment came the hegemony of vision, where vision was associated with reason. Before this, the senses were a balanced set and related to an element; sight to fire and light, hearing to air, smell to vapour, taste to water and touch to earth, which were fundamental to the ontology of the universe (Zardini, 2005). Cities and neighbourhoods have suffered in terms of safety due to a ‘tunnel vision’ society, engrossed in their technological devices instead of focusing on their present environment and imbuing what Jane Jacobs calls, ‘eyes on the street’. Which again pleads to conscious social interaction and an end to passivity (Zardini, 2005). These technologies are portrayed as the epitome of entertainment creating paradox's of disassociation with the world as the viewers have become static observers, allowing themselves to be engrossed by it. Cities and their spaces should provide places of reflection and relief from this technological society as precedent. Places where physical and social interaction, amongst nature, can occur.


This dissertation envisions a restored balance between mankind and technology by reinstating man as an active sensory being. A conscious recognition of the built environment and the surrounds needs to be attained in order for mankind to be an active participant. This might be achieved through an architectural response of a sensory journey through a labyrinth of spaces which will actively re-insert mankind as multi- sensory beings. Matters that will be discussed are:

• The phenomenology of spatial perception;

• the metaphysical and the emotive challenges of place making;

• polemics of the hegemony of vision; and

• the senses in architecture.


- Draft version of thesis dissertation Design of a museum mapping sensory experiences. Chapter 1, Introduction, by author.


This idea seemed so abstract at the time. Energy as currency. People changing parts of their bodies in order to make more money by harvesting energy, literally, themselves.


Buildings would already be harvesting their own energy too. If we are plugged into a cyber world what would our physical world need to be? What becomes of architecture, the manifestation of space into place when the virtual world is the space we choose to inhabit? What would a world like this be like? What would it feel like?


 A world where energy is currency, 2013, by author.



Sure this would mean that our economy would be based on a totally different currency, being energy. Seems highly unlikely.

With buildings already harvesting their own energy, more often now, and soon being regulated to do so, how far will we go when our energy sources are depleted?


The thought first developed from a realisation that the sensual nature of touching, feeling, hearing, smelling and seeing the world in equal measure is appreciated by few. We live in a technological society of globalisation, where everything must be done quicker; a society with modernist views and glass architecture of which everything seems to be a seamless and cold, visual architecture that is not meant to be touched. We no longer interact with people face to face, but are rather fully immersed in a cyber world where our consciousness is extended falsely.
What would happen to our future if this kind of lifestyle were to persist?


It was essentially an abstract idea and should be perceived as such. Most concepts discussed could be metaphorical but for the purpose of it being for academic merit to be graded in a school of technology, I re-titled it to:

The design of a museum mapping sensory experiences where a sensory anthropology can be observed. A sensory experience which provides a place of reflection and relief within the city and explores how the phenomenology of architecture can be preserved.


I think the thought provoking idea is still relevant in this day. How will this day be looked at in the future? Will our causes justify our effects? 





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