Emotional Architecture: About the Feeling of Things
There is no emotion within us without a place, just as there is no place that does not generate somatic commotions, as mild as they may be
Almost every person who is space-sensitive prefers an ugly place with character than one of calculated perfection. This is probably due to how the first, the somewhat strange or disfigured space includes us in the deformity of its walls and in the history that shapes it; there is something of each of us in its chimeric character, because we all carry within us the traces of a chimera. The second, to begin with, excludes us like a sterile reflection.
The so-called Emotional Architecture, which German-born Mexican architect Mathias Goeritz inaugurated in 1953 with a manuscript written with the purpose of presenting the Museo Experimental: El Eco in Mexico City, has little to do with the “charismatic ugliness” of a place, but it is related to the inclusion generated by these characteristics. Goeritz’ oeuvre is comprised of strange hybrids of architecture and sculpture that irrupt in tradition to suggest the need for a symbolic content capable of stirring emotions or the identification of shapes as metaphysical representations.
A lone and tall wall in the corner of a patio, for example, such as the one found in the Museo del Eco, does more than simply lift our gaze, it also elevates us like it, it exalts us as a primary colored tower. Goeritz devoted himself to plastic and primitive messages, to interdisciplinary concepts and —above all— unfinished ones where the viewer, or better yet the experiencer, finishes the construction with his or her emotions. But emotional architecture has always been in the world, long before Goeritz named it so. Think of labyrinths, of Arab castles or celestial vaults, respectively created to generate confusion or vehemence.
Just as every construction evokes interlinings and nervous states, emotions confer architectural spaces and high and low walls. Solitude is a sitting room and happiness is a garden. There is no emotion in us without a place, just as there is no place that does not generate somatic commotions, as mild as they may be. The infrastructure of our emotions are our emotions, they contain a habitable space and are contained by a habitable space.
Therefore, if we’re lucky and get to choose where we will live, it is essential that we empathize and sympathize with the place. That light reaches the spots we want it to reach and that shadows do not over-texturize the place where we usually rest our eyes (thoughts tend to “texturize” or imitate what our eyes see).
The infrastructure of the house we inhabit will contain us when we fall and it will contain us when we change. The habitable inorganic is the most organic of all since it is smeared with our symptoms: it yields to psychic and emotional ghosts, and its walls become humid with sensitive dampness.
The term proposed by Goeritz and which he carried out with mastery awakens every building and allows us to see them thus: architecture must confront us and communicate with us on psychic and emotional levels, as well as visual and intellectual. And it does, but we often overlook it. Every architecture, every infrastructure, yields before us and vice versa. All architecture is Emotional Architecture.
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