Interiorities, Embeddedness and the Dwelling
Research stage: Doctoral application
This paper further elaborates on early research which is a dialogue between the theme of Drawing and the theme of Interiorities and Embeddedness in relation to Dwelling.
By studying six carefully chosen characters, the meaning of interiority and embeddedness in architecture is critically questioned. The characters are selected based on their relation to dwelling, interiority and their embeddedness in landscapes. Some of them are personal, some are coincidental findings and some are purposefully chosen painters. To begin with, personal characters are examined, such as my grandparents’ house, my childhood environment, and my former home. Due to their nostalgic nature, these places can become almost imaginary or idealized after the loss of them, which makes them interesting subjects to study the interiority of dwelling and memory 1. Secondly, coincidental findings like a 17th century watermill and a white homestead are beautiful examples of how architecture searches for a sense of (spatial) interiority and how they are embedded in the landscape 2. Thirdly, for understanding the themes of interiority, embeddedness and dwelling, two paintings from northern renaissance painters are studied - Interior of a house with a seated woman (c. 1654) (fig.1) by Jacobus Vrel (c. 1630 – c. 1680) 3 and The Census at Bethlehem (1566) (fig.2) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525-1530 – 9 Sept 1569) 4. Their paintings are highly interesting to comprehend the spatiality of these themes. Whereas Jacobus Vrel captures the domestic inside of the home in a very intimate way 3, Bruegel depicts how the landscape can absorb everything and how man and dwelling are embedded in the landscape 5. It is hard to see the landscape without the people in it, they are part of it and determine each other. He displays life in the beauty of its triviality and in that way, everydayness becomes timeless 6. By bringing these diverse characters together, different insights are gained regarding the main themes. Confronting these insights and bringing them together results in a critical whole.
Figure 1: (Painting) Vrel, J. (1654). Interior of a house with a seated woman [Painting]. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain. http://www.essentialvermeer.co...
Figure 2: (Painting) Bruegel the Elder, P. (1566). The Census at Bethlehem [Painting]. Koninklijke musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, Brussels, Belgium. https://www.fine-arts-museum.b...
By analysing and anatomizing these characters or protagonists through immersive drawing methods, the aim is to understand what elements are important in relation to dwelling, interiorities and embeddedness. Detailed drawings of these characters are the ultimate instrument to research and to comprehend. It forms the central method in the research and proves to be very fertile for the process. The exposed qualities and strengths of the characters, regarding interiorities and embeddedness, and the insights generated by them, come together in a new entity. Within this process, these characters are translated and they interact with each other. What is then developed, is an architectural embodiment of these. Their strengths and sensitivities are expressed through the construction of a shelter or refuge, a place of withdrawal. A new entity offers alternative and innovative conclusions on the theme of dwelling, interiority and embeddedness. This process defines the true core of the research as a specific Design Driven research (DDR) approach to identify, to uncover and to lead to new insights and entities.
On the one hand, this study led to the description of three Interiorities tied to embeddedness: the interiority of dwelling, the interiority of the landscape and the interiority of memory. Firstly, dwelling is inseparable from who we are as human beings. As humans, we feel the need to dwell and therefore build ourselves a ‘place’ to dwell into. This need goes back to the essence of human existence, it gives meaning to our ‘being’ and to the forgetfulness of it and the homelessness we might feel 7 8. This makes the essence of dwelling something internal and therefore an interiority. Secondly, the surrounding landscape as well can have strong qualities that enhance the sense of interiority. Nestling into a landscape is crucial in the feeling of embeddedness 9. A landscape with a strong interiority can be very decisive for this feeling, therefore the search for a place to dwell and to withdraw begins with the search for a landscape that enhances it. A landscape that is capable of absorbing all what lies in it, that makes one feel embedded and enclosed. And finally, the third interiority is memory. Memories are internal experiences, inherent to one’s past and shaped by who one is. Therefore, like dwelling, memories are linked to one’s being 1. By remembering places or fragments of landscapes closely known to us, the memories are given a spatial translation on one hand and on the other, it elevates places in a landscape into strong interiorities. By deploying these interiorities of dwelling, landscape and memory in the construction of a new place, this place immediately becomes loaded with qualities of interiority.
On the other hand, the intense drawing sessions led to a clear description of the agency and meaning of the architectural drawing within the design process. Four Drawing methods were elaborated - Annotated Drawing, the Atmospheric Perspective, Critical Sequential Drawing 10 and the Perspective Section. Annotated Drawing makes material presence become more explicit yet tangible through verbalisations (fig.3). The Atmospheric Perspective thrives on memory as a driving force for demonstrating and imaging inhabitations of landscapes and spaces (fig.4; fig.5). Critical Sequential Drawing forms an in-depth and ongoing exploration of the drawn (fig.6; fig.7). And finally, the Perspective Section unlocks the nature of a space and reveals its details. In addition, the Perspective Section is detached from the use of one unified perspective, different elements can be traced to different vanishing points (fig.8). Instead of using a strict one-point perspective, something is developed that goes beyond the representative. It becomes more than just a depiction of one moment in time - multiple moments converge 11.
Figure 3: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Annotated drawing: Through the hatch and the vault scale 1:10 - 500 x 350 mm
Figure 4: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Atmospheric Perspective: Landscape of memory 1000 x 700 mm
Figure 5: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Atmospheric Perspective: Childhood home 420 x 297 mm
The insights gained from thorough research of drawing and interiority and embeddedness come together in the constructed place of withdrawal (a refuge) as my own mental space charged by memory and the embeddedness of the landscape. But the space goes beyond the imaginary. It is, in my regard, highly important to go far in the materialisation of the imagined. In this way, a new 'real' is created that incorporates both the makeability and the mental space. It is precisely this achievability of the actual making that gives the imagined more strength.
This paper led to a doctoral research proposal aiming for continued research and understanding of the landscape and its immanent qualities for which the insights of early research form a starting point. This doctoral proposal seeks to develop drawing methods that identify the intangible properties of the landscape and, through the drawing, make them tangible to the beholder. The drawing serves as the key to unlock the landscape with the aim to lead to a better understanding, so that future interaction with the landscape involves a higher sensitivity to its immanent properties.
With the aim to offer the beholder new perspectives on these themes and to sense the interiorities, to feel embedded in it and experience it. To explore the narrative space and to inspire an architecture beyond the physical, where the poetic image of intangibilities and construction emerge together yet start to merge.
Figure 6: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Critical Sequential Drawing: Study of Jacobus Vrel’s window scale 1:1 / 1:10 - 1000 x 600 mm
Figure 7: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Critical Sequential Drawing: Research of the staircase 420 x 297 mm
Figure 8: (Drawing) Porrez, M. (2021)
Perspective Section: Constructed place of withdrawal scale 1:10 - 1000 x 1000 mm
- Altman, Irwin/Low, Setha M. (1992): Place Attachment, New York, NY: Springer.
Molenechos (2020, September 7): Kasteelmolen. https://www.molenechos.org/mol...
Rybczynski, Witold (1987): Home: A Short History of an Idea, Penguin Books Ltd.
Müller, Jürgen (2020): Bruegel. The Complete Paintings, Taschen.
Vermeylen, August (1953): »Pieter Bruegel de Oude als schilder van landschappen«, in: Vermeylen, August (Ed.), Verzameld werk. Deel 3, A. Manteau, pp. 427-444. https://www.dbnl.org/tekst/ver...
Gyselen, G. (1969): »Pieter Bruegel de oude en het landschap«, in: Vlaanderen, 103(1), pp. 30-38.
Heidegger, Martin (1951): Bauen Wohnen Denken, Klett-Cotta Verlag.
Kavanaugh, Leslie Jaye (2006): »The Ontology of the dwelling«, in: Hauptmann, Deborah (Ed.), The body in Architecture: 010, pp. 94-112.
Norberg-Schulz, Christian (1980): Genius Loci, London: Academy Editions.
- Van Den Berghe, Johan (2021): »Critical Sequential Drawing: a drawing method to close the gap between the Poetic Image and its Material Presence«, in: Stoa Journal 2, Dipartimento di Architettura Università. degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, pp. 168-179.
- Beke, Eva/ Lagrange, Thierry/ Van Den Berghe, Johan (2019): Perspective Drawing, The Drawing and The Space. http://thedrawingandthespace.i...