Designing for the Body
A seminar course whose focus lies within an architectural and design practice emphasising the body: conceptual strategies, design principles and professional concerns. The built environment and bodies maintain an extensive and complex relationship. The analogies between the two are as old as history, specifically from a Western cultural perspective. From the caryatid to the cathedral, the bathroom to the bachelor pad, city planning/architecture to space/furniture, arguably have taken their cues from identifying markers of the human body. Conversely, individuals define their identities in relation to the spaces and places they inhabit, as in the case of the office worker, the student , the housewife/husband, the club-hopper, the streetwalker, the homeless, and the physically challenged. The built environment shapes us even as we create it, in a constant conversation and exchange between interiority and exteriority - between perceptions of who we are and where we are situated. Science, psychology, and philosophy have all had their turns in scrutinising the body and it's functions. And yet, in the design professions, few have attempted to take the study of the body beyond the simple project of outlining its objectifiable performance criteria (anthropometrics). The presumed utility of ergonomics, as the ultimate "science" of observing and representing user needs, is predicated, to some extent, on both the convenience of a generic user body and the denial of the ethnographer's (ergonomicist's) own subjectivity. In this seminar, we will survey contemporary and historical writings about the body and its relationship to physical and social worlds, we will attempt to forge an experimental approach to (designing with/for) the body.