I can describe a rainbow with poetic words, but I’ll never know what it is until I see one. I can explain a delicious food in detail, but I won’t know the flavour of it unless I decide to taste it. I can imagine the feeling of a touch, but I will be unaware of it unless I give or receive it.
Architecture belongs to the species of rainbows, caresses and delicious food. We have to meet it in order to know it. Through the 5 senses: first of all looking at it, of course, but also hearing its noise, touching its surfaces, smelling it, and if not tasting its materials (which is a privilege reserved for few), but at least linking sounds, smells and tastes of our lives to the places where we sensed them, and that we love for that.
But the experience in itself is not knowledge: architecture is a product of the intellect, therefore we must complete the course of thinking that produced the idea of the thing and the thing itself, by bridging the experience to the judgment we attach to it. That means to give it a meaning, a sense.
I like this word that can be read in many ways. Sense is an expression of consciousness: sense of duty, common sense, sense of humor, nonsense; it is awareness (sensitiveness, sixth sense), perception (sensibility, sensation, sensitive, sensorial, sensational), desire (sensual, sensuous), judgment (sensible, sense of guilt, “it makes sense”).
Sense is alertness, appreciation, atmosphere, aura, awareness, brains, clearheadedness, cleverness, coherence, concept, consciousness, definition, denotation, direction, discernment, discrimination, disgust, excitement, feel, feeling, implication, impression, interpretation, intuition, judgment, logic, lust, meaning, mood, nous, nuance, opinion, perception, premonition, presentiment, principle, purpose, reason, sagacity, sanity, sensation, sensuality, sentiment, sharpness, significance, substance, understanding, use, value, way, wisdom, worth. All this richness of meaning is in our lives, and therefore in the environment where we live, both in the action of creating it and in the way we live in it. I call it Architecture: science and art of living in the space according to our nature.
Cover: Carlo Scarpa , drawing no. 31587 recto (Pianta dell’area di esposizione della statua di Cangrande; studi per il supporto della statua equestre in un’ipotesi a colonne). Courtesy Archivio Carlo Scarpa, Museo di Castelvecchio Verona http://www.archiviocarloscarpa.it/web/disegni_scheda.php?scheda=341