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The Cognitive User of Architecture

'Making Reality Really Real'

The 11th Consciousness Reframed International Research Conference 2010, Trondheim

Ein konzeptioneller Rahmen unter Anbetracht neurowissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse, für die Erforschung der Beziehung zwischen Architektur und Benutzer.

Abstract

This paper introduces the ongoing project The Cognitive User of Architecture, whichinvestigates the relationship between architecture and user. The main thesis states that in order to receive knowledge of this relationship,the focus has to lie on the user rather than on the built environment. Accepting and validating the user as a subjectively perceiving and consciously processing‘actor’ on the stage which architectural environments provide, the central claim is that architecture is a consciously experienced subjective product, emerging out of the user'sperception. Focusing on cognitive science as a consequence, German philosopher Thomas Metzinger's work is examined and incorporated. In Being No One, Metzinger (2003) considers neuroscientific research to present a representational and functional analysis of what consciously experienced first-person perspective actually is.Metzinger’ssignificance lies in the development of a conceptual toolkit, interlinking the humanities with the empirical sciences of the mind.
This research paper explores the capabilities, opportunities, and implications which Metzinger’s studies have for the architecture / user relationship. Therefore not only theoretical concepts based on the neuroscientificdebate are explained, but interactivespatial experiments – responsive architecture – are presented,verifyingthe theoretical concepts with supporting empirical data.

Introduction

The following paper investigates the relationship between architecture and its user. The main hypothesis states that in order to acquireknowledge of this relationship,the focus has to lie on the user rather than on the built environment.Accepting and validating the user as a subjectively perceiving and consciously processing‘actor’ on the stage which architectural environments provide, the central claim is that architecture is a subjectively experienced product, emerging out of the user'sprocess of ‘consciousness’. This process of subjective experience is what we have to understand in order to gainknowledge of the relationship between architecture and its user.

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