Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On Light - Holl, Pallasmaa, Zumthor, Ando & Kahn

Here is a collection of quotes from my recent reading. They are mostly on light. I have posted them as contextually relevant to thinking about how a light projection art installation can enhance the articulation of architecture - which is what we are attempting to promote with the project for the Cameron Offices.   

Steven Holl Anchoring

  • Space remains in oblivion without light. Light's shadow and shade, its different sources, its opacity, transparency, translucency, and conditions of reflection and refraction intertwine to define or redefine space. Light subjects space to uncertainty, forming a kind of tentative bridge through fields of experience. What a pool of yellow light does to a simple bare volume or what a paraboloid of shadow does to a bone white wall presents us with a psychological and transcendant realm of the phenomena of architecture.

Juhani Pallasmaa The Significance of the Shadow (in The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses)

  • During overpowering emotional experiences, we tend to close off the distancing sense of vision; we close the eyes when dreaming, listening to music, or caressing our beloved ones. Deep shadows and darkness are essential, because they dim the sharpness of vision, make depth and distance ambiguous, and invite unconscious peripheral vision and tactile fantasy.
  • The imagination and daydreaming are stimulated by dim light and shadow. In order to think clearly, the sharpness of vision has to be suppressed, for thoughts travel with an absent-minded and unfocussed gaze. Homogeneous bright light paralyses the imagination in the same way that homogenisation of space weakens the experience of being, and wipes away the sense of place.
  • In our time, light has turned into a mere quantitative matter and the window has lost its significance as a mediator between two worlds, between enclosed and open, interiority and exteriority, private and public, shadow and light. Having lost its ontological meaning, the window has turned into a mere absence of the wall.

Peter Zumthor The Light on Things (in Atmospheres)

  • So the first of my favourite ideas is this: to plan the building as a pure mass of shadow then, afterwards, to put in light as if you were hollowing out the darkness, as if the light were a new mass seeping in. The second idea I like is this: to go about lighting materials and surfaces systematically and to look at the way they reflect the light. In other words, to choose the materials in the knowledge of the way they reflect and to fit everything together on the basis of that knowledge.

Tadao Ando (in Michael Auping, Seven interviews with Tadao Ando)

  • The memory [of my childhood home] has always stayed with me, the ways the rooms seemed to be painted in shadow and light. That is how I experience space.
  • You are able to see the light because of the darkness. Because of the darkness you felt the strong presence of light.
  • When you sit inside of a dark room and you look out at the garden that is naturally illuminated, you can begin to feel the fundamental relationship between light and darkness, the reason they need each other to express themselves.
  • Shadows and darkness contribute to serenity and calmness. In my opinion, the darkness creates the opportunity to think and contemplate.

Louis Kahn Light is the Theme

  • Silence to Light
    Light to Silence
    The threshold of their crossing
         is the Singularity
         is Inspiration
    (Where the desire to express meets the possible)
         is the Sanctuary of Art
         is the Treasury of the Shadows
    (Material casts shadows shadows belong to light)
  • A great American poet once asked the architect, 'What slice of the sun does your building have? What light enters your room?' - as if to say the sun never knew how great it is until it struck the side of a building.
  • No space, architecturally, is a space unless it has natural light.
  • When a man says that he believes that natural light is something we are born out of, he cannot accept a school which has no natural light. He cannot even accept a movie house, you might say, which must be in darkness, without sensing that there must be a crack somewhere in the construction which allows enough natural light to come in to tell how dark it is. Now he may not demand it actually, but he demands it in his mind to be that important.
  • When you have all the answers about a building before you start building it, your answers are not true. The building gives you answers as it grows and becomes itself.
  • It is much better not to cover anything up but to show the full nature and relationship of part to part, including the present condition of each which is a record of how it got that way.

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