Siza, Koolhaas, and the Others: Notes on a Research into the Minutia of Architectural Experience

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de Sá, Ana Luísa
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Our research delves into the minutia of architectural experience, in a (neuro)phenomenal sense, from an architectural theory standpoint. Phenomenology of architecture and aesthetic theory offered sophisticated empirical definitions and descriptions of architectural experience for the better part of the 20th century. While the ineffable dimension of architectural experience is an inevitability, some of its previously inaccessible aspects are now coming to light, as new areas of inquiry tap into and unveil the complexity of our engagement with our surroundings—particularly through neurophenomenology and neuro-aesthetics. Thus, confirmations of previously theorized aspects and further revelations about experience and its components can now be extracted. It is our view that such confirmations and revelations are particularly interesting for architectural theory as an area of scientific inquiry. In our broader research, these are considered adjuvants in our looking for what we designate as evidence of experiential phenomena, and instrumental in further theorizing their underlying components in a way that is methodologically and hermeneutically coherent throughout. A retrospective reading of architectural theory and of architectural authorship and production is proposed in our research—a study of architectural experience in its artifacts. Through such artifacts, we seek to build an interpretive study of architects Álvaro Siza and Rem Koolhaas in their approach to architecture as a lengthy, complex, and meandering exercise, which culminates in a fully accomplished authorial work delivered to others, ultimately for their experience. Aspiring to a broader characterization of their authorial methods and resulting architectures, in their particular experiential qualities, we focus our attention on the specificities of two examples: Museu de Serralves (1991-1999) by Siza and Casa da Música (1999-2005) by Koolhaas/OMA. With this paper, we seek to contextualize some aspects of a larger research.
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