Architecture has an inevitable impact on our senses, it is the human artifact that is closely connected with nature that implies an influence on them.
Our senses allow us to interact with the environment, provide us with immediate information on what we can grasp in our surroundings through perception and recognition, and so it happens that a building can have a positive or negative impact. We can be strongly influenced by a single building because it is born and exists where there is an individual who needs it, it testifies to the passage from primitive individualism to cooperation1 because, in order to be realized, first of all, it needs a strong will, through physical, economic and all the other necessary resources are the definitive fulfillment of a choice of positioning and formal expression in continuous evolution.
Despite the enormous changes that have taken place in different eras, the basic principles that lead to architecture, have not changed, the word "dwell" has not changed, useful for defining the complexity of the relationships of human space, when a man lives is located in a space and therefore exposed to a certain environmental character2. Everything is sewn into the soul of each person through what can be defined as the identification of the individual with the places of his being. This identification is given by his sensory approach that generates knowledge of the places that lead to safety, also visible through his ability to orient himself.
It is important to linger on the cognitive aspect because this has a direct link with our senses, it is evident for example that only after several months of living in a new city this is acquired by a person, in fact, he will move much faster and with more awareness within this only when, by diligently carrying out the activities of his day, he will have repeatedly traveled the necessary spaces.
In fact, the centers in which the actions of primary importance in our life take place are present at all environmental levels3, the points of arrival, of meeting, make us experience the space, they bind us to it as with our loved ones through sensations that they are imprinted on our mind.
The space therefore enters our memory with a positive impact on our senses, in the present when we are protagonists, in the past when we remember what we experienced, in the future imagining new situations, new passages but in the same environments that we have already known .
In fact, it is common practice to sustain, when we have perfect knowledge of a space, that we can go through it even with our eyes closed, as if to indicate that even if we do without the sense we most use for perception, the sight, we could easily move in a space that it belongs to us, thanks to our mnemonic abilities. Despite this, even "our" places are subject to continuous changes, to date, having reached the peak of technical and formal experimentation, we have pushed ourselves to a phase of numbing the senses, what we feel is an environment that is no longer to be lived, created for us, but only to be exhibited to the highest bidder, eliminating stopping places in favor of places of quick crossing, just think of how the historic centers of our cities have been completely submerged by the construction of the new suburbs.
However, what remains and is fundamentally the most fascinating aspect of the sensorial connection between the individual and the built environment, a pure architecture in which we identify, which fulfills its function of being in a selfless manner, a sort of built rainbow that deals with establishing transcendental continuity and satisfies our senses. Architecture has a dominant role in the city space, a degraded space will have a bad sensorial influence, generating discomfort, disorientation, depression, but if this same space is the subject of redevelopment, rehabilitation, reconstruction, it will lead us to a real liberation of the senses, an architecture that welcomes leads us to open our arms towards it, a healthy city ensemble allows us to be totally satisfied.
Arnold Hauser, Sozialgeschichte der Kunst und Literatur (trad. it. Storia sociale dell'arte, Turin, Einaudi, 1964)
Christian Norberg-Schulz, Genius Loci. Paesaggio Ambiente Architettura, Electa, Milan 1979
Christian Norberg-Schulz, L'abitare. L'insediamento, lo spazio urbano, la casa, Electa, Milan 1984
Daniele is an Italian architect and teacher of design and art history in high school. He has dedicated himself with passion to the historical research of art and architecture.