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Malleable Mind and Matter

'Fixed? Architecture, Incompleteness and Change'

International Conference 2011, University of Plymouth

Eine Untersuchung der fluktuierenden Beziehung zwischen dem Raum und der Wahrnehmung des Menschen.


Human beings are subjective systems, constantly perceiving and processing their respective environments. Mind and matter as the underlying bases of these networks, are malleable, adapting and changing throughout the course of the lifetime of an individual or the shared history of a cultural or social group. Our research examines how the perceiving system - in a state of constant flux - relates to the space it inhabits, demands, transgresses. We focus on those aspects of fixity and flux which are rooted not in the physical materiality and corporeal appearance of buildings, but how / why the perception, appropriation, and use of architectural compositions communicate themselves in a constantly changing, evolving manner.

The human brain in its role of conductor to a complex orchestra of living matter and resulting sensual composition, coordination, and (e)motion is not fixed, but instead involved in a lifelong process of transformation - concretisation which approaches, but never intersects, fixation - and thus unable and not intended to offer to its physical surroundings an unyielding, unshaping counterpart.

Adopting, interpreting, and extending observations of space and time, viewing them not only chronologically, but under aspects of socio-cultural differentiation, and by placing the human perceptive system - which performs under temporal circum and happenstantial appreciation and experience - at the centre of his assumption, we introduce neurophilosophical reasoning and support these with neurobiological findings, offering an unorthodox take on humans and space.

This research paper confronts the question whether architecture is fixed not from the viewpoint of spatial manifestation and tangible transformance in Euclidean space, but from the angle of human perception - how philosophy of mind and neurobiological accomplishments can demonstrate that architectural space truly is in the brain of the beholder.


Are buildings fixed objects? Taking no time to reflect upon this, intuition tempts us to immediately respond ‘yes’. Conventional buildings, as we know them, do not move or change. Time, however, progresses and a building in progressing time cannot be as fixed as our initial and possibly ignorant reaction may assume. Inserting the user of architectural space into our consideration causes our intuitive answer to waver further, due to the user’s continuous change of usage, participation, and appropriation of a building. The consequence is that by shifting our perspective from an objective to a subjective point of view, the assumed fixed object becomes one that changes. The differentiation between the objective and the subjective character of our architectural observation is crucial to our reflection. From an objective - intuitive - point of view a building may appear to be fixed, the realization drawn from a subjective observation, however, differs greatly. A simple question ‘Are buildings fixed objects?’ directly leads us to a dichotomy which is rooted into our very way of perceiving the outer world. This dichotomy is that of the objective and subjective, the fixed environment and its malleable perception.
Our research paper therefore confronts the question whether architecture is fixed not from the viewpoint of spatial manifestation and tangible transformance in Euclidean space, but from the perspective of human perception.

Ganzes paper lesen

Brain Fixity

Brain Fixity

Internal Images

Internal Images



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