chapter  4
28 Pages

Experiencing architecture

Experiencing architecture Culture is only one way for thinking about architecture and ethics. Another is to question whether and how the built environment can be experienced, in ways likely to be shared and morally accountable. For many philosophers, architectural theorists and practitioners, the idea that buildings (or some of them anyway) can be experienced this way is taken for granted. More common are expectations in the broader community that different types of buildings, and public and private spaces, engage our perceptions and feelings in obvious ways; that cities both shape and are shaped by patterns of human behaviour. Building developers, for instance, routinely promote their projects as providing a distinctive ‘urban experience’, possibly a dynamic and exciting lifestyle, full of opportunity. The redevelopment of Times Square was promoted in this way; however, it required an act of eminent domain, a call on the power of the state to compulsorily purchase private properties targeted for demolition, to make the project possible. Development started with the forceful acquisition of building sites and proceeded at the expense of people in the district who found their own ways of living there misrepresented on billboards and construction hoardings. This is because photographers and marketing agents sought to portray a sanitized view of the place – all in the name of ‘the public’ and the illusory goal of ‘urban rejuvenation’ (Miller 2007: 45-69).