Architecture as Thriving - In search of "the Quality without a Name"

Raine Mäntysalo, Kaj Nyman, Johanna Lilius

Abstract


This article explores the everyday use of architectural objects, conceiving the purpose of architecture to be the support of everyday wellbeing – of “thriving”. The approach combines Bateson’s concept of “meta-communication” with Scruton’s Wittgenstein-based architectural aesthetics. To describe architecture as an act of “thriving” is to propose that everyday architecture makes it possible for its users to ‘enunciate’ their experience of the fluency of their shared occupancy of the architecture that constitutes their surroundings. Thriving is thus defined as a socially habituated and mostly unconscious and non-verbalized “quality without a name” (to borrow Alexander’s notion). We examine the empirical implications of this theoretical argument by exploring the practices of residents in a newly built apartment block in the inner city of Helsinki, Finland. The empirical research uses autoethnography and observations, photographs, interviews, social media discussion, and planning and design documents as its primary methodology and sources of data.

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