Dematerializtion of Architecture
The history of discourses has been developed for centuries, and architecture have entered a phase of re-evaluation. Because of the prevalent technology and media of creation in the virtual world, contemporary architecture is dematerialized to be images and abstract ideas. The definition of architecture has become even more subjective, obscure, ambiguous and limited. We took advantages from photography and the technology of visualization.
But the excessive trust on the visual sensation has somehow blinded our eyes and becomes he obstacle for understanding space and architecture. Photographers and designers selectively frame an object to depict a most exaggerated angle or to capture a most exciting moment. Audiences lost their autonomy in discovering the truth, because there is no other materials available except the illusions. The resulted biased understanding to architecture contradicts to Juhani Pallasmaa’s theory. He reaffirmed Merleau-Pontys philosophy, the human body is the centre of experiential world, in his book: The Eyes of The Skin.
He argues that multi-sensory experience allows the human body perceiving the qualities of space, matter and scale in a more profound manner. However, the multi-sensory experience does not apply to those intangible architecture. The obsession of rendering has enervated the importance of materiality. Materiality means mapping or tiling texture’ over the flat surface in the simulation program, disregarding physical properties, thickness, stiffness, elasticity, and density, of each specific material. We recklessly over simplify materiality.
In renderings, stainless steel eans highly reflective and shiny; wood means brown and static; brick means pixelated facade. Material has been degraded to be a piece of veneer or wallpaper, fragile and dispensable. This encourages substituting one material with another material. It is not rare to use hollow metal with shiny coating to imitate stainless steel in the construction practice. The identity of material is fading away. Last but not least, the inflation of the project scale has disrupted the relationship between an individual and the built habitat.
The immense scale of the new evelopments confuse us because everything is out of human proportion. Windows grow too big to become curtain wall. Doors are automatized, because they are too heavy to open. Towers are too high that takes hours to walk up. We cannot use the traditional quantitative mechanism to interpret matters. We could Just live within a building and hardly get to see the whole picture of it. The tangible structure is dissolved to be purely impression. Here we go back to photography in seeking a solid answer to the understanding of contemporary architecture.