Intertwining

Intertwining: Baukultur
Alessandro Gattara, Sarah Robinson, Davide Ruzzon (Editors)
Mimesis International, September 2019



Paperback | 6-3/4 x 9-1/2 inches | 216 pages | # illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-8869772702 | $26.99

Publisher's Description:
We want to move beyond thinking of architecture as an object. Architecture is not separate from us–it is not something to be judged merely by its formal properties, its satisfaction of programmatic concerns or its performance in terms of technical parameters. We are not dismissing the importance of these factors but wish to enrich them, to understand and articulate how architecture can capture and express unseen layers of meaning and purpose.

We want to think of architecture as a verb, a mover, a shaper, an active agent in human flourishing. In order to appreciate the potential power of architecture we want to explore the experience of architecture, and the intimately related experience of making architecture. Turning our attention to experience requires that we listen to and consider knowledge from a full array of disciplines. Experience is multi-dimensional, multi-directional, irreducible. Experience always supersedes, flows over any boundary that attempts to circumscribe it.
dDAB Commentary:
The World Economic Forum is taking place this week in Davos, Switzerland. Each year the famous invitation-only event for CEOs and politicians happens around a theme and then results in a so-called "Davos Declaration." At least that's the best I can tell what happens, since I'm not especially interested in these gatherings of rich people — maybe I should be, though, since their actions, even if fueled by self-interest, have a great impact on just about everybody in the world. Two years ago the Forum's Davos Declaration was Baukultur (simply "building culture" but conceptually more complicated than that translation), and in the years since then people in Europe, particularly architects, have been responding to it. Just last week, in fact, an article I edited for World-Architects examined Baukultur as public policy in Spain. And there's the second issue of Intertwining, "an international, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to understanding the experience and making of architecture," which came out last year and is dedicated to Baukultur.

Intertwining comes with a manifesto laid down by the editors, one that acknowledges the important of science, particularly neuroscience; the name of the journal suggests the weaving of "multiple disciplinary strands together in a mutually enlightening way." So the issue dedicated to Baukultur basically tackles the Davos Declaration in the light of the neuroscientific findings the editors embrace, findings that focus on how people experience buildings and other parts of the built environment. The meat of the issue consists of essays, most notably by Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Michael Arbib, and Sarah Robinson, who co-edited the issue as well as the earlier Mind in Architecture: Neuroscience, Embodiment and the Future of Design with Juhani Pallasmaa.

The issue also includes a conversation between issue editor Davide Ruzzon and Kenneth Frampton, who isn't shy to articulate his skepticism toward architects embracing neuroscience, projects by Steven Holl and Rahul Mehrotra, a book review of Henry Francis Mallgrave's From Object to Experience by Bob Condia (a professor at my alma mater, Kansas State University, I should note), and numerous other contributions. Although I found the copy editing and page design lacking at times (e.g., too many misused commas, quotes not formatted clearly), I'm increasingly intrigued by the application of neuroscientific findings to architecture so I appreciated this issue and its timely theme. Now to wait and see if this year's Forum yields a Davos Declaration relevant once again to architects — and the editors of Intertwining.
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Author Bio:
Alessandro Gattara pursued his doctoral degree in architecture at the University of Parma working with the neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, with whom he contributed to the book Mind in Architecture. Sarah Robinson practiced architecture in San Francisco for nearly 20 years, she currently lives and practices in Italy. Davide Ruzzon, architect, since 2016 with Lombardini22 has developed TUNED, a project focused on the application of Neurosciences to Architecture.
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