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Welcome to ‘bodyoftheory’, an experiment in research and communication in the field of architectural humanities. I hope it will help me to bring together a series of research and teaching interests, ideas, activities and outputs around the broad theme of ‘architecture and embodiment’. This is something I’ve been interested in for a long time and passionately believe is a massively important – yet underexplored – area of architectural theory. And while it is sometimes difficult to explain to people how this could form the basis of a ‘coherent intellectual project’, I believe the relationship between architecture and the body is actually fundamental to everything we do as designers and thinkers – and almost everything we do as human beings.

Most of the pages on the site are currently ‘under construction’ but please check back for what I hope will be regular updates.

About bodyoftheory

Jonathan Hale is an architect and Professor of Architectural Theory at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham. Currently Head of the research group Architecture, Culture and Tectonics, within the Faculty of Engineering. Research interests include: architectural theory and criticism; phenomenology; the philosophy of technology; the relationship between architecture and the body; museums, exhibitions and digital technologies. Author of numerous articles and books and co-editor of Rethinking Technology: a Reader in Architectural Theory (Routledge, 2007). Founding Chair of the international subject group: Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA): http://www.ahra-architecture.org


9 thoughts on “Welcome!

  1. Hello! The site looks great!

    Posted by komarine | February 16, 2012, 5:10 pm
  2. Thanks Komarine, that’s great – but feel free to come back on my Heidegger interpretation..!

    Posted by bodyoftheory | February 16, 2012, 5:32 pm
  3. This seems a very resourceful site, Jonathan; my compliments!

    Regarding the role that embodiment has to play in the industry, I totally agree with the statement(s) made in the welcome note. If I may add to it, I would suggest that embodiment should be one of the fundamental dimensions along which today’s architects (and why not designers outside of the built environment) ought to work during the design process.

    I strongly believe that, in the same way in which engineers and scientists make fantastic cases for how materials and form should be influenced by environmental parameters, architects ought to use embodiment as another parameter along which to influence design. This would therefore involve justifying textures, form, color and smells by use of a philosophical and even psychological framework.

    Perhaps it is by embedding this field into the current paradigm that a deeper and more accurate understanding of design can be achieved.

    Posted by Dominic Rassool (@dominicrassool) | March 2, 2012, 1:08 am
  4. Jonathan – thanks for the link, and I look forward to following your posts.

    I’ve been mulling over what as architects we learn from the under-rated discipline of physiognomy – how you judge a character or read a person by their face. Do we take our faces for granted?

    Posted by Colin Rice | March 7, 2012, 10:44 pm
    • Thanks for your comment Colin, that’s an interesting thought. There is a bit more writing on this in urban theory – one response to the anonymity of modern city life was to classify people in terms of bodily and behavioural types – the flaneur being the classic example. In architectural theory there isn’t so much – Rudolf Arnheim perhaps.. Possibly the most interesting is the book by Marco Frascari, ‘Monsters of Architecture: Anthropomorphism in Architectural Theory’ (1991), In Chapter 2 he refers to the American linguistic philosophers Lakoff and Johnson’s book ‘Metaphors We Live By’ (1980).

      Posted by bodyoftheory | March 8, 2012, 10:30 am
  5. Hello, dear Mr. Jonathan Hale,
    I’ve been thinking to write a comment maybe over six months. Actually, we’ve been reading Your book “Building Ideas: An Introduction to Architectural Theory” for one of theoretical architectural courses at the university. At 고려대학교 in Seoul. And I’m Russian, from Новосибирск. While reading, when I needed some rest from the studying, I used to go to the lounge hall at the laboratory building, located on the first floor, and take some drink from the vending machine. One day I saw some exercise book, maybe left by some student there. I know, it’s not good to watch other people things, but I thought that time, that maybe I could find a name of the student or the title of the discipline there or give it to someone. And just became curious. So, I opened that exercise book: on the first page I saw some mathematics tasks, question and solution, then on the next page I saw some geometry tasks and solution as well, and flipping through further, I saw some chemistry formulas, trigonometry, mathematics statistics… The exercise book consisted of questions and answers. Firstly, I thought that just one person used this notebook for all the university subjects, which he or she took. But then I noticed that the whole notes were written by different handwriting… I thought, it’s an interesting example of collaboration among students, just you can leave a question and waiting for a comments or an answer from others…
    And I’m so happy to find this website; I’ve been thinking to leave a comment, but it’s so hard to begin from the “clean paper”, so I’m happy to be with those, who have written there..
    I hope to study and know more about interpretation, “embodied architectural hermeneutics” and other things.
    Thanks much.

    Posted by Kate | February 4, 2013, 8:36 am
    • Kate – Many thanks for your comment – and that’s good to know you have access to the Building Ideas book. Is that in English or do you have the new Korean translation already? I wasn;t sure if it was out yet. Korea University University Press are publishing it, but perhaps not until later this year. Anyway, the exercise book you mentioned sounds like a useful format for the exchange of ideas – a nice alternative to the website/chatroom. It’s good to know that analogue technologies still have their uses!

      Posted by bodyoftheory | February 6, 2013, 4:31 am
      • Hello, thanks much.
        Actually, I was reading Your book in English; I’ve heard that it might be translated in Korean. I saw some copies of the book in the Korea University library in “해외 도서” (foreign books) section in English, but, unfortunately, don’t know exactly about Korean translation..
        From some side, it seems to me, analogue technologies more often imply (or intend) more personalized communication: the answers in the notebook are written especially for some person and by people, whom you can occasionally meet in the lobby often. But maybe not necessary to talk to them or have any appointment.. don’t know. I think, maybe nostalgia (or need?) in personal contacts will increase substantially with the development of internet technology. Or other types of digital interaction.
        Likewise, I’ve heard, about that “analogue” interaction in public space without any technique. In one project (it’s called “Open Library” project by Clegg & Guttmann, 1991) they put some bookcases in a park. So people could go to the park, take a book, read a book.. and put it back to the bookcase for another person… “The book, a medium by itself, becomes a medium of the public space. The question, if people use this offer, if they ignore it, if they just take books, if they also bring books or if they destroy the bookcase shows the social behavior of the people and their relation to the public space. The project also generates a virulent communication process: people start to talk about the bookcases..”.

        Posted by Kate | February 6, 2013, 9:11 am
      • Thanks, that’s really useful to know. Regarding the ‘living library’, you may also enjoy this alternative version, which I just discovered in Canada – it’s called the ‘Human Library’: http://humanlibrary.org/

        Posted by bodyoftheory | February 6, 2013, 5:22 pm

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Latest Book:

Housing and the City book cover
Borsi, Ekici, Hale & Haynes, eds. Housing and the City (AHRA2020) Abingdon: Routledge, 2022

Latest Article:

CAA Campus, Phase II, Hangzhou, 2003–2007, designed by Amateur Architecture Studio.
Jin, X., Hale, J., Unbinding Architectural Imagination: Wang Shu’s Textual Bricolage in Theoretical Writing and Design: Journal of Architecture, 2023
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