Perception of Atmosphere: A Wanderer's Journey Towards Spiritual Contemplation
This thesis proposes an intuitive approach to prioritise the experience of architectural space and the feeling of atmosphere considered the starting point for design. It surveys ways of imagining, recording and translating, from the imagined atmosphere to architectural space. Watercolour as a rebellious drawing medium frees the architectural mind-set, and was tested in this thesis to capture the intangible emotions and metaphysical visualisation of atmospheres. Materials were exploited from their immanence to release the potential characteristics of atmospheres.
Peter Zumthor stated: “We perceive atmosphere through our emotional sensibility, a form of perception that works incredibly quickly… I enter a building, see a room, and – in a fraction of a second – have this feeling about it.” Atmosphere bridges the intangible and tangible worlds. Although it affects visitors' emotions, the qualities of the architectural atmosphere have not been closely studied.
In Western tradition, architecture is viewed as “a material and geometric object”; the “objectification” of the world manipulates shapes intellectually “through focused vision”, alienating the emotional sensitivity that perceives the world subjectively. Architectural drawings are presented precisely and clearly, instead of ephemerally and ambiguously. This ordering of the world denies imagination, constraining the fluidity of users and the design creativity of architects.
 Peter Zumthor, Atmospheres : architectural environments, surrounding objects, Basel : Birkhäuser 2006.Pg. 13
Gernot Böhme Juhani Pallasmaa author. Christian Borch editor. Ólafur Elíasson, 1967- author, Architectural atmospheres: on the experience and politics of architecture, Basel: Birkhäuser. 2014, Pg. 22
Gernot Böhme Juhani Pallasmaa author. Christian Borch editor. Ólafur Elíasson, 1967- author, Architectural atmospheres: on the experience and politics of architecture, Basel: Birkhäuser. 2014, Pg. 24
The utilitarian world captures us with its eagerness for attention. The need to pause and retreat leads to a journey of inner exploration. To connect with human nature, the thesis addresses ways architects could integrate phenomenological thinking to inform the results. Sensory design becomes the bridge to access consciousness from matter. A tramper’s retreat is proposed for Lake Coleridge as a place to escape from urban life by melding the landscape with architectural strategies. Nature as the most important trigger of the sublime acting as a mirror to reflect in a state of contemplation. Sensorial engagement with materials prepare the visitor to enter the atmosphere, nurtures bodily experience and accesses the spiritual realm. This project does not attempt to answer existential questions, but passively provokes a journey by the inner self to achieve a heightened state of awareness.