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See, look and observe.

The more times the user stopped to observe an architectural operation, the more achieved the design.


Nine out of ten people use these three words as synonyms. Let's analyze it.

 SEEING  is to use vision and may result in sensations perceived or elaborated by other senses. It doesn't mean paying attention, it's just grasping what is in front of us.

 TO LOOK , is to direct the view towards a fixed point, to focus, until contemplating.

 OBSERVE  is to examine, draw up a judgment, generate information to the brain and that it processes it analyzing based on previous experiences in relation to the observed. To observe, before I looked, and before I looked, I saw.

To simplify and exemplify, let's pretend you're taking a picture. You see a situation, you look at an object or situation -you position your camera-, and finally you observe - you look for the best point of view of what is portrayed, managing the light and focus you want to give it based on your concepts of  photography , light, and previous conceptions about how to photograph and the object in question.

To complexize and exemplify, light is something essential in  architecture .

When it comes to enjoying the architecture, inhabiting or visiting it, when you meet the site, you see certain morphology from the solar angle in which the access is accidentally or intentionally located.

However, when one advances in the project-user relationship, studying and touring its spaces, you are looking at situations that attract attention by ingress of light and shadows that are generated. Part of the architectural success of a project is to capture attention and generate user observation from looking at these operations. If during the tour did not go from seeing to observing -from light bothering you to generating positive sensations- the architect has failed.  The more times the user stopped to observe an    architectural operation   , the more accomplished is the   design  . 

“Good if it is short, twice good,” Baltasar Gracian said, quoting Le Corbusier. Demanding a little more to the term, and citing “less is more” by Mies Van der Rohe, between these two phrases we conclude that the less complex operations the architectural work has, but the more time for observation they generate the user, the more successful the project will be. The architecture has to be as good as it is little cloying. The brain is prepared to observe and enjoy a certain number of operations without exhausting or getting lost.

 Success is to find the balance of  observation   . 

Observation in architecture

Unlike the  perception  employing the totality of the senses, observation here is based on the sense of sight. This constitutes a natural condition of the human being that has given rise to direct knowledge. The ability to observe has departed from admiration for things and the unknown and has become the ability to construct glances to analyze and question reality.

This questioning of reality has led us to the search for answers and solutions to our way of living, building the world as we know it. As it is a natural capacity inherent in our human condition, it has the power to establish itself as a fundamental instrument of knowledge. That is why it has been an important part of the development of each discipline that has domesticated it for its own purposes.

We know now that observing is not strictly making use of sight, nor building a look, but to make conscious what we observe and give it an orientation and destiny.

 Observing architecturally  considers a close relationship between the eye that sees, the head that thinks, reflects and infers, and the hand that collects the measurement of sight, quantitatively and qualitatively.

In this discipline, knowledge is first reached through drawing and reflection. This gives us tools to then be able to create freely. The close relationship between sketch and text determines a unit that constitutes the act of having observed.

Publication Date: 19/04/2018

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Te sugerimos continuar leyendo las siguientes notas:

Architectural currents
Visual arts and architecture come together on a guided tour of the City of Buenos Aires



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