In this post I will try to explain in my own words the key concepts of four chapters of Juhani Pallasmaa's book "The Eyes of the Skin"
Oral Versus Visual Space
or ....... Seeing with your Ears
In the olden days humans would use their ears more than they used their eyes. Before books or paper the elders (parents or grandparents) used to tell stories that would then be passed down from one generation to the next. Listening was the most important tool. In the past other senses were also important especially touch and smell .... more than sight. They would remember more of what the heard, smelled and touched rather than what they saw. Today, especially in western countries such as the UK it is the opposite. Sight is the most important sense and we have almost forgotten to use our other senses. The problem with this according to the book is that it makes us focus only on our selves and we forget that we share the world with other humans. Whilst before we were more united by the experiences of sounds. This is why the author thinks poetry is such an important example because it allows us to go back to using our other senses, and architecture should do the same.
"Retinal Architecture and the Loss of Plasticity"
or...... Architecture becomes rigid when it just uses one of the senses.
If we want to create architecture to the standards of the Ancient Greeks we have to start using all of our senses. The Ancient Greeks achieved greatness in their architecture because of this. They are proof that Architecture can rely heavily on sight, but it doesn't have to forget all the other senses.
But why has this happened? According to the author humans have stopped experiencing architecture in real life. Thanks to photos, pictures, television, internet etc they can see architecture anywhere and at any time, but they experience it without using any of their other senses. The result is that Architects started to design with only this in mind. So they focused only on the visual experience instead of the total experience.
This means that today we have buildings and cities that have been created from a visual perspective i.e. how it looks, instead taking into account all the other senses. This makes it a 'fake' unreal environment which does not take into account the humans living in it. This also means that they will never feel any real attachment to it.
"An Architecture of Visual Images"
or...... Architecture as a flat picture.
A bit like instagram where users post a picture for instant gratification with likes, the same is happening with architecture. Instead of concentrating on the soul of the building, architects are just interested in the immediate visual impact. Instead of designing a building or structure for something useful, or to transmit emotions, or to last for many years so that future generations can admire the construction, architects are just interested in today and how it will look in a magazine or on social media.
"Materiality & Time"
or...... Natural versus Man-made and Importance of Time .
Have you ever noticed how beautiful old wooden floors look? They are different shades, each board is different, some are chipped, some are scratched, they are not even. They tell a story of time which has passed. Architects today have forgotten how important this is, because they are so concentrated on perfection. Humans are not perfect, and need to feel connected to their past.
Architects need to create buildings that touch all the senses, instead of just concentrating on the visual or even worse turning it into some sort of design which is created to be liked only by other architects or those in the architectural world. They end up speaking the own special language, and live in their own little bubble and forget about the real world with real people.