Joy as a Design Paradigm
Joy as a Design Paradigm
Jaime Bartolomé Yllera _ GilBartolomé ADW
…feelings are the representation of a particular state of the body (parts of the body or the whole body operating in a particular manner). The feeling is the idea that the body is in a certain way. Feelings are perceptions, and the most necessary support for its perception occurs in the body maps of the brain. To experiment a feeling is to perceive that the body is in a particular way. Just like Spinoza stated in the seventeenth century; the soul is the idea of the body and the feeling of joy, the idea of an increase in our living strength or our power to act.
We can therefore understand Damasio´s and Spinoza´s pure and immediate joy as an event caused by a material encounter that simultaneously goes from the body to the mind and vice versa. An inextricable tissue of corporal devices and their modifications that are translated into complex mental images that we summarize in our conscience as feelings; and a collection of external signs and ideas that are translated to the interior of our bodies as modifications of its parts in an endless cycle always half unveiled..
If we admit this very convincing hypothesis of material joy, we could immediately start to think in architectural terms: because the material relation between my body and those that affect it is never abstract but spatial. The material encounter that determines the reality of the affect and the emotional experience has a particular geometry. Equally important as the “substantial” relationship between bodies. is the geometry of the encounter, and many of those geometric material encounters could be simply defined as architecture. This is a non-exclusive definition of architecture and a potential program for exploring architectural strategies that promote that sort of immediate, vital joy. Therefore, architectural joy could be defined as the event and the experience of existing materially within another body that makes the most out of ours through a relational geometry; and this event somehow increases my living strength and power of action. Architecture would therefore be the “geometrization” of that particular relation and the material condition and behavioral pattern of that other non-human body. This should not be understood as a reduction of architecture to a sort of body development center nor like a denial of pure aesthetic content, but on the contrary, as a link between those contents and its physical substratum. If aesthetic contents are joyful intensifiers of experience, they must be good and splendorous in the concurrent corporal sphere and its vital effects (its validity from this point of view comes from this side and it is consistent with this idea). What this does actually mean is that there is an opportunity for design to work with emotional experience by considering in a more explicit and additive way the actions that the use and enjoyment of architecture produce over the human body, and the continuity between those and other pure aesthetic effects or ideological contents. A strategic intensification of that geometric relation offers a new approach to this basic feeling of embodied joy and its aesthetic sophistications, and will constitute itself into valid design content within the whole group of functional and aesthetic contents of architecture.
Moreover, the substantiation of emotional and experiential contents of architecture in its material and geometrical relation with a human body, and specifically in the effects it has on it, will allow us to explore the aesthetic potential of some physical dimensions of architecture that have not been considered traditionally as part of the aesthetic agenda of the discipline. Dimensions such as slope, temperature, air flows, humidity and ecotype are now relevant for the production of aesthetic effects from this perspective, as are certain architectural systems such as flooring, mechanical systems, furniture and interior vegetation.
This way, we could start to speak of different types of architectural joy based on the nature of the geometrical relations between the human body and different physical dimensions of architecture. And from this classification we will articulate a research and design agenda.
This joy is material, direct and immediate; it has no ideological counterpart besides the precise feeling we are aware of. The secret of architecture stays uncover. But this perspective over experience will allow us to work for a stronger and richer relevance for architecture. A relevance that will come from our approach to emotional experience and aspires to enhance the value of its performance and the valuable and socially relevant ideas it endorses for today.