In architecture, experiential quality seems to appear when architects succeed in engaging with material and bring forth characteristic material articulations (Petersen, Leatherbarrow, Pallasmaa, Rasmussen). However, despite the notion that properties, qualities, and effects of materials may be inseparable in the experience of architecture, the quantifiable is often considered more decisive than the synthesised quality in the making of architecture (Ingold). It may resonantly appear, that the practice of architecture, in large, is structured around ways of understanding, where the conceptual is valued over the material and in which “[t]he valuing of form over matter relegates material in architecture to the practical underside of the profession” (Thomas). This paper takes an interest in the relations between “experience,” “material” and “making,” concentrating on the “coming to presentation” of architecture through a combination of phenomenological description, 1:1 model-making and spatial re-presentation (Andersen, Böhme, Heidegger, Schmitz). The notion is that making, thinking and teaching architecture may benefit from an engagement “within” rather than being theorised from “without” (Ingold). Considering building-culture a resource that may hold technical as well as aesthetic knowledge, the investigation revolves around the development of the listed Nyholm in Copenhagen as part of a master’s course.
The paper is developed through a methodical tripartite, consisting of a theoretical reading, a study of three student projects and a discussion reflecting on method. It asks, how may, what is already there, be altered and extended through a sensitive work with the highly specific materials, structures and presences that characterise an architectural environment (Caruso)?
VBJ is a practicing architect and head of KTR at The Royal Danish Academy. His academic work concentrates on the material aspects of architecture – e.g. the experienced effect of materials in terms of space, form, material, light, texture, acoustics etc. – as seen in a historical, technical and phenomenological perspective. VBJ studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Architecture. He has been awarded in several architectural competitions, published several articles on architecture, edited and designed several publications.