His early career is characterised by concerns with rationalism, standardization and prefabrication. This was partly due to the influence of his mentor Professor Aulis Blomstedt, who was very much concerned with proportional systems and standardization. However, the key models for this type of architecture were both Japanese architecture and the refined abstractions of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In Finland this type of architecture is referred to as "constructivism" - with only a family resemblance to the avant-gardist Russian Constructivism - and at that time, the late s and s, stood in opposition to the work of Alvar Aalto , who was increasingly seen in his home country as an idiosyncratic individualist. It was after returning from teaching in Africa that Pallasmaa turned away from pure constructivism, and took up his concerns with psychology, culture, and phenomenology.

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Essentially, Pallasmaa enframes his practical prescription for the 21st century architecture as up against a Western "visual bias" which he is able to trace back to ancient Greek philosophy all the way to Modern Western thought. Does this properly account for the poverty of architecture today? Yes, this is distinctly alienating in a visual sense. Structures, though built, seem to tear at their surroundings, destroying context, insisting on shallow recognition of presence above all else.

Pallasmaa is entirely correct when he states that, "The narcissistic eye views architecture solely as a means of self-expression, and as an intellectual-artistic game detached from essential mental and societal connections [ I think that an architectural project which seeks to either control by atomizing its inhabitants or merely flatter the self-expression of the architect will result in an isolation of ALL the senses.

Surely our visual culture also suffers as a result. Truly, the real danger is a reification of categories. In a society of mass produced space the entire cocktail of senses are reinforced and predictable. How is the visual significantly different? The search for instantaneity and immediate impact has withered all of our senses—but more importantly, it has reified categories of thinking which serve to quell the furnaces of imagination.

A proper architectural philosophy would, in my humble opinion, never operate out of context. More than anything though, it would seek to address the needs of people with a belief in the integrity of the human spirit, rather than cynically attempting to control people or try to prevent societal variables. Architecture, more than anything, is these days either an exercise in paranoia or the self gratification of the designer. But like many treatises on art it remains far too academic.

Talk about detachment. The book is nevertheless well written and clear. Pallasmaa is a remarkable writer and each sentence is evocative and can be the springboard for further analysis and thought. The short book investigates how the senses are activated in and through architecture and the built environment.

Logging the ocularcentric nature of most architecture theory, Pallasmaa evokes sound and silence , but also scent and texture in a profoundly moving and effective way. Most significantly, there is attention to memory, passion A beautiful book and inspirational. Most significantly, there is attention to memory, passion and imagination and how they are summoned, triggered and enhanced through architecture.

But the quality of the writing alone is inspiration for readers and writers.

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The Eyes of the Skin Quotes

He recalls that occupied by the visual sense we suppress what is utmost important — and that is the spatial experience we are invited to. You probably wonder what this has to do with fishing. But just like architecture provides a space, which is inhabited — fishing means inhabiting a space built by nature, evolving constantly. Sight is our dominant sense. We constantly rely on it as we study and categorize our surroundings.


Juhani Pallasmaa



The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, 3rd Edition


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