Welcome to ‘bodyoftheory’, an experiment in research and communication in the field of architectural humanities. It brings 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 still believe is a hugely important yet underexplored area of architectural theory. 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.
To be human – and hence to be embodied – is to be already extended into what Maurice Merleau-Ponty called the ‘flesh’ of the world: a liminal realm where it is impossible to say categorically what belongs to the self and what belongs to the environment. One consequence of this intertwining of the body with its perceptual field is the fact that we perceive the world only through the medium of the experiencing body. It is therefore impossible to make a meaningful distinction between our experience of the objects (and spaces) around us and our experience of the body itself in the act of experiencing.
For more on this theme please see my chapter in the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (link and abstract below):
Architecture, Technology and the Body: From the Prehuman to the Posthuman.
This paper provides a broad survey of recent thinking on the relationship between architecture and embodiment – and in particular on the body’s prosthetic relationship with technology. Drawing on the work of contemporary thinkers such as Bernard Stiegler and Raymond Tallis, it argues that rather than treating new technological extensions to the body as threatening to our sense of self, we should instead see them as part of a longer developmental trajectory in which ‘the human’ and ‘the technological’ are in fact mutually co-constitutive. By considering these issues within the framework of current evolutionary, cognitive and neuropsychological theory, the paper draws out some of the more significant implications of human and technological embodiment for designing, making and thinking about architecture today.
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