Place Trace: Embodying site and architectural experience through movement praxis

Watson, Rowan (2023) Place Trace: Embodying site and architectural experience through movement praxis. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Rowan Watson PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Apr 2023_Final Award Sept 2023 .pdf - Accepted Version

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This research offers the field of architecture an original praxis that employs movement to enhance dynamic, relational, and corporeal awareness of place during the communicative and representational processes of architectural design. Much of architectural design practice is spent at a distance from the animate site, and the representational techniques with which architects communicate with themselves can be equally distancing. During design, images of the building are tiny, static, largely visual, and often viewed from above rather than within the design. This study proposes that measures that physically engage architects in dynamic embodied understandings of both the site and of future inhabitant experience can reduce this felt distance during design practice. Dynamic and embodied perception can strengthen attention and identification with the life and ecology on site, also helping architects to perceive the dynamic experiential qualities as-if-in the future building. This transdisciplinary practice-research addresses the following over-arching research question: -

How might movement be employed as an aid to architectural design to enhance the experience of designing with-in the animate site and as-if-in the future design.

This PhD research has developed a way of embodying site and architectural experience through a movement praxis which is called Place Trace. During the processes of architectural design, Place Trace provides a way of using movement to communicate with oneself during design both with-in the site and as-if-in the future building; affectively tracing the steps of future inhabitants and the qualities of real and imagined place with the moving body-self. Three key qualities of body-place encounter identified in Phase 1 of the study underpinned the movement praxis trialled during design in Phase 2. These qualities are identified as body relational space, rhythm, and density of body-place encounter. When attending to these three qualities, the aspects of site and design traced around my body in movement were experienced as close, immediate, clear, real, and memorable, as if traced upon my physical body-self, connecting me to the site and design. The original praxis initiated during this research offers the field of architecture accessible ways of using and attending to the whole body’s movement to trace, embody, and thus feel and remember, the surrounding qualities of real and imagined place, also bringing the practitioner’s body-self into a closer dynamic body-place relationship with-in the site and as-if-in the design.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
21 April 2023Submitted
6 September 2023Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Architecture; Dance; design process; Place Trace; relational space; rhythm; density; within; as-if-in
Subjects: CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-01 - architecture
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of Architecture
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2023 12:05
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 12:05

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