Sensing Romania

The following pictures represent a photographic travel diary that speaks about how a group of young, IAESTE architecture interns, travelling for the first time in Romania, managed to discover and create a connection with the cities that they encountered throughout their journey. Following this summer experience, the process of designing became more enriching as a result of engaging all the senses. This ultimately led to a more meaningful sense of how surroundings are perceived whilst moving through space and time.

“As we open a door, body weight meets the weight of the door, legs measure the step as we ascend a stair, a hand strokes the handrail and the entire body moves diagonally and dramatically through space.”

The experience of architecture is inseparable of the body’s movement in different spatial events, as it is the basic tool for constructing, dimensioning and sensing place. Combining sight with other senses, Transylvanian villages appeared to fulfill a variety of criteria that gave travelers a meaningful experience. The built environment intertwined with the landscape in a city designed to the human scale, giving it both unity and identity. Passing the wooden city gates and walking along the city’s brick fortifications, you get to hear the clang of the town hall bells while you’re making your way through the narrow, dimly lit streets to find yourself in the city center. Step by step, the city reveals itself, engaging the individual’s multiple levels of consciousness, activating all senses.

Weight, texture, shape and temperature aid the process of visualisation. These numerous tactile memories, full of the surrounding environment, add to the visual and form a complex layer of senses, giving specific purpose to an object. Spatial features come together into a symphony for occupants to experience. By bringing space to life, all senses are engaged. Intense colors, smells and sounds are just as important to a setting as the lack of one sense is to creating a distinctive setting. By toning down one sense, the image re-establishes harmony by replacing it with other forms of perception.

During night-time, a different image of the city is perceived. Light may be controlled to show certain parts of the city, highlighting some senses while hiding others.

Final thoughts: Architecture and human senses are interdependent. Sight, sound, smell and touch are the instruments by which we recognize the surrounding environment and determine direction and location. Altogether they form a unique experience, a path that never repeats itself in time and space. By being aware of the needs which must be stimulated, designing becomes a much more human oriented process, giving us a better idea of how we may find the best approach between the economic and ergonomic.

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