January 9, 2018 - Royal Academy of Arts, London - Sensing Architecture
Essays on the Nature of Architectural Experience
e-flux Architecture
January 9, 2018
January 9, 2018

Royal Academy of Arts, London

Grafton Architects, ‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’, Royal Academy of Arts, 2014 © Hélène Binet

Sensing Architecture
Essays on the Nature of Architectural Experience

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Sensing Architecture
Essays on the Nature of Architectural Experience

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A new collection of essays published by the Royal Academy of Arts provides commentary on the philosophical, psychological, social and economic ideas that shape our experience of architecture.

Sensing Architecture: Essays on the Nature of Architectural Experience derives from a symposium held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London on March 31, 2014 to accompany the exhibition Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined.

Sensing Spaces saw seven architects from around the world invited to create one-off installations in the Academy’s Main Galleries and Annenberg Courtyard. Visitors were encouraged to move through and experience these interventions and the exhibition offered a stark contrast to the usual representation of architecture through drawings, photographs and models.

The exhibition, curated by Kate Goodwin used architectural constructions to "highlight ... the sensation of inhabiting built space" with the premise that "physical explorations of space are central to our understanding of it." "Could such an experience," Goodwin asked, "awaken visitors' sensibilities to the spaces around them, not only within but beyond the gallery walls?"

This collection of essays introduced and edited by Owen Hopkins broadens the context for this question by "exploring how a consideration of the experience of architecture can enrich and develop its practice and analysis, as well as its theory and history." It features four papers on a wide range of subjects, from both researchers and practitioners and is accompanied by an essay from Goodwin, on the thinking behind Sensing Spaces, the curatorial strategy, and the exhibition’s outcomes alongside a series of photographs by Hélène Binet.


‘A constant interplay of feeling and reason’: Thoughts on Sensing Architecture
Owen Hopkins

Sensing Spaces: Reflections on a Creative Experiment
Kate Goodwin

Night Moves: Dissolving Time and Space in the Nocturnal City
Nick Dunn

Portraits of Experience: The Cathedral Photographs of Frederick H. Evans
Dervla MacManus

Labyrinthine Time: J. G. Ballard, Robert Smithson and Tacita Dean
Nicole Sierra

On Boredom: The Blurred Spaces of Maxim Gorky’s Coney Island
Christian Parreno

This collection is intended neither as a direct continuation of the ideas brought together in Sensing Spaces, nor as counterpoint or critique. Rather, like the symposium, it is conceived to complement the exhibition’s insights and to offer further consideration of the nature of architectural experience. 

Related upcoming events 

Further exploring the themes of architectural experience, the Royal Academy of Arts has launched a call for papers for a two day event entitled Experiencing Architecture: Inviting Dialogue.

This event taking place on April 21 and 22, 2018 comprises two parts: one an experiential encounter, the other a symposium.

In the first, which takes place on Saturday evening, a dialogue will be invited through an experience of architecture—an exchange between building, visitor, and performer.

Participants will be invited to inhabit and occupy the four houses of Walmer Yard, designed by Peter Salter, while experiencing performances that experiment with the possibilities the houses offer for sound, narrative, and movement.

This experience will be followed by a symposium, lasting all of the following day, at the Royal Academy. The symposium will put the night’s events into context as part of a programme of presentations and discussions.

Royal Academy of Arts, London
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