Architecture Beyond Experience is a work in the service of one goal: the bringing about of a more relational, “posthuman” and yet humanist strain in architecture. It argues against the values that currently guide much architectural production (and the larger economy’s too), which is the making, marketing, and staging of ever more arresting experiences. The result, in architecture, is experientialism: the belief that what gives a building value, aside from fulfilling its shelter functions, is how its views and spaces make us feel as we move around.
The author argues that it’s time to find a deeper basis for making and judging architecture, a basis which is not personal-experience-multiplied, but which is dialogical and relational from the start. He uses the word “relational” to describe an architecture that guides people in search of encounter with (or avoidance of) each other and that manifests and demonstrates those same desires in its own forms, components, and materials. Buildings are beings. When they are architecture, buildings teach as well as protect; they tell us who we were and who we want to be; they exemplify life, deserve respect, invite investment, and reward affection. These are social-relational values, values that both underlie and go beyond experiential ones (sometimes called “phenomenological”). Such relational values have been suppressed, in part because architects have joined the Experience Economy, hardly noticing they have done so. Architecture Beyond Experience provides the argument and the concepts to ultimately re-center a profession.
- Combining science, ethics, and esthetics, Architecture Beyond Experience (ABE) encourages designers to turn from “creating experience(s)” for their clients to cultivating the character of, and relationships between, Rooms, People, and Things, treated as beings in their own right.
- Written for graduate students, teachers, progressive practitioners, and lovers of architecture generally, ABE will appeal also to readers of religious philosophy, art history and theory, social phenomenology, and Judaism through the lens of Martin Buber.
- As a subset of the above, readers of contemporary philosophy in the area known as Speculative Realism and/or Object Oriented Ontology (a trend sweeping through architecture schools in the U.S.) will be particularly interested in the book.
- ABE will also appeal to general readers who are worried about our social-media-ized, digital streaming culture, around which there is a growing, critical literature.
- Finally, ABE should find a ready audience among (1) those who follow developments in Space Syntax and Isovist Theory, a community to whom the author is well known for his research, and (2) to the community surrounding the Architecture Culture and Spirituality Forum (ACSF), to whom the author is also fairly well known.
- ABE has received rapturous Advance Praise from a dozen notable architects and writers.