The Poverty Of Embodiment in the Work of Juhani Pallasmma

Griffiths, S. 2024. The Poverty Of Embodiment in the Work of Juhani Pallasmma. Architecture_MPS. 27 (1). https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.amps.2024v27i1.002

TitleThe Poverty Of Embodiment in the Work of Juhani Pallasmma
TypeJournal article
AuthorsGriffiths, S.
Abstract

In books such as The Eyes of the Skin, architectural theorist Juhani Pallasmaa posits unmediated sensual encounters as the site of authentic engagement with the built environment. Such ideas are prevalent in mainstream architectural discourse today. In this article, I show that they are also highly problematic. Pallasmaa rejects visual intentionality, construing it as the instrument of an objectifying reason that distances us from our ‘being-in-the-world’. Referring to the phenomenologist philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and indebted to Henri Bergson’s concept of duration through lived experience, Pallasmaa’s theory promises a poetic inhabitation of the world, irreducible to reason and characterised by an animistic embodiment, allegedly offering a more meaningful architectural experience. Informed by contemporary rationalist thought and drawing on neuroscientific, anthropological and philosophical arguments, I first argue that Pallasmaa’s project is weakened to the point of collapse by the misunderstanding of his intellectual resources, particularly with respect to the use of incompatible concepts of embodiment in Heidegger’s and Merleau-Ponty’s works. I then show how his ideas of embodiment, disinterested vision and sensuality constitute an impoverished account of lived experience that, far from overcoming alienation, mystifies it. I specifically discuss Pallasmaa’s analysis of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, his comparisons of human- and animal-created structures and his forays into neuroscience. Finally, I dispute Pallasmaa’s claim that an immediate sensual encounter is the route to authentic engagement with the world, and question whether the unmediated lived experience he yearns for is even possible.

Keywordsembodiment
phenomenology
reason
vision
architecture
JournalArchitecture_MPS
Journal citation27 (1)
ISSN2050-9006
Year2024
PublisherUCL Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.amps.2024v27i1.002
Web address (URL)https://journals.uclpress.co.uk/amps/article/pubid/Archit_MPS-27-2/
Publication dates
Published01 Feb 2024

Related outputs

Northampton Contemporary Art
Griffiths, S. 2023. Northampton Contemporary Art.

The Blue House Extension, ReModelling and Refurbishment
Griffiths, S. 2022. The Blue House Extension, ReModelling and Refurbishment. Architects Journal, The Observer, Dezeen.

The Poverty Of Embodiment
Griffiths, S. 2022. The Poverty Of Embodiment. Architecture, Media, Polities Society (AMPS): Lived Space, Past and Present, part of the conference series on Representing Pasts-Visioning Futures. Queens University Belfast 01 - 03 Dec 2022 Architecture, Media, Politics, Society (AMPS) Proceedings Journal Series.

Architecture Without Plans
Griffiths, S. 2020. Architecture Without Plans. in: Soberg, M. and Hougaard, A. (ed.) The Artful Plan Birkhauser. pp. 184-205

Kessels Kramer London
Griffiths, S. 2019. Kessels Kramer London. www.modernarchitect.co.uk

The Politics of Post Modernism
Griffiths, S. 2017. The Politics of Post Modernism. in: Gura, J. (ed.) Postmodern Design Complete London Thames & Hudson. pp. 66-70

Design by Chance
Griffiths, S. 2015. Design by Chance. Freedom and Creativity. Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK 28 - 28 Nov 2015

My Dreams of Levitation
Griffiths, S. 2014. My Dreams of Levitation.

The Progressive Extension of the Field of Individual Development and Experience.
Griffiths, S. 2014. The Progressive Extension of the Field of Individual Development and Experience.

Sliding Gate
Griffiths, S. 2013. Sliding Gate.

The Museum of Copying, Venice Architecture Biennale
Griffiths, S. 2012. The Museum of Copying, Venice Architecture Biennale.

What is radical post-modernism? / post-modernism: an incomplete project
Jencks, C., Griffiths, S., Holland, C. and Jacob, S. 2011. What is radical post-modernism? / post-modernism: an incomplete project. Architectural Design. 81 (5), pp. 14-23. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1291

A field guide to radical post-modernism
Griffiths, S., Holland, C. and Jacob, S. 2011. A field guide to radical post-modernism. Architectural Design. 81 (5), pp. 46-61. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1294

Re-radicalising post-modernism
Griffiths, S., Holland, C. and Jacob, S. 2011. Re-radicalising post-modernism. Architectural Design. 81 (5), pp. 122-127. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1302

FAT projects: manifesting radical post-modernism
Griffiths, S., Holland, C. and Jacob, S. 2011. FAT projects: manifesting radical post-modernism. Architectural Design. 81 (5), pp. 78-89. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1297

Virtual corpses, figural sections and resonant fields
Griffiths, S. 2011. Virtual corpses, figural sections and resonant fields. Architectural Design. 81 (5), pp. 68-77. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1296

Riverside One, Middlesbrough
Griffiths, S. 2011. Riverside One, Middlesbrough.

The Dara Building (Grote Koppel), Amersfoort, Netherlands
Griffiths, S. 2009. The Dara Building (Grote Koppel), Amersfoort, Netherlands.

Sint Lucas Art Academy
Griffiths, S., Jacob, S. and Holland, C. 2006. Sint Lucas Art Academy. Boxtel, Netherlands.

Islington Square housing project
Griffiths, S., Jacob, S. and Holland, C. 2006. Islington Square housing project. London.

Back to the future: staying with the suburban ideal
Griffiths, S. 2004. Back to the future: staying with the suburban ideal. London, UK CABE/RIBA.

Blue House
Griffiths, S., Jacob, S. and Holland, C. 2002. Blue House. Shoreditch, London.

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/w8yz7/the-poverty-of-embodiment-in-the-work-of-juhani-pallasmma


Share this

Usage statistics

7 total views
4 total downloads
These values cover views and downloads from WestminsterResearch and are for the period from September 2nd 2018, when this repository was created.