Why did I choose this place?
When I first arrived to Valencia I was completely overwhelmed. My home town is rather small (actually it is tiny compared to Valencia) so imagine how I felt when I got here and saw all those endless a
venues and the huge squares, the cathedral and the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. I had never felt more like an outsider before, I was not comfortable at all and genuinely thought that I will never fit in here.
But that feeling disappeared when I saw the port. It was just for five minutes but it was enough for me to know that somehow I did belong there. For the first time I did not have the sense of being an outsider. I don’t know why, ports have that effect on me, it is like they could be placed anywhere, as if they didn’t belong to the city they’re in, but at they same that city would be completely different without them since they confer the city a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. It took me a while to realize that that feeling was related to the buildings that were there. I had never paid attention to the architecture of the ports untill I decided to study this degree and the first thing that I noticed was the contrast between the structures: on my left there were edifices which I found extremely majestic (ex. Varadero Público from 20th century); however, on my right there were
brand-new buildings (Veles e Vents from 2007) and they all looked so good together. Nothing was out of place, not even me who was 200km away from home.
So that’s why I have chosen this place, because when I am here I feel like home.
What makes you comfortable?
I would say that apart from what I said before, being close to the sea always calms me, the water has a soothing effect on me so maybe that’s why I feel at ease there. I cannot even imagine myself living in a non-coastal place, the mere thought of that gives me anxiety.
The way I see it, the port has been built so the people who arrive to Valencia by sea feel welcomed and want to stay because the first impression is really important. Maybe that’s why they have put so much effort in keeping it nice and appealing
Is there some disruptive element?
I feel like i should mention the fact that the buildings there bare no similarities whatsoever. Neretheless, I don’t find that disruptive at all, in fact, they all give balance to the whole compound. It is like I said before, the fact that all the edifices are different from one another gives the port unique appearance.
Do you think you’d feel the same way in another space right now?
Definitely not, maybe I could experiment similar sensatios but I think those are inflluenced by the environment and therefore, if it changes so will my mood.
First I thought about the beach; however, it is not the same sice the
re the atmosphere seems to me more melacholic. It also came to me the image of a train station but I think it laks the tranquility of the sea.
Do you think that the conditions of this space influence its occupants?
Obviously, it couldn’t be any other way. We don’t behave the same way everywhere. Take for instace your own house and a relative’s house, no matter how comfortable you feel there, you will never act the same. We can apply that to public spaces, as well. People behave in a completely different way in a mall and in a parc. They don’t even walk at the same pace.
Here at the port I can tell they are relaxed. They walk slowly and some of them even stop for a while to contemplate the views. They might even take a seat and stay here for a couple of minutes or hours. And that’s possible because all of the infrastructure invites you to do so: there are benches everywhere and little wooden platforms where you can sunbathe or just chill for a while and touch the sea
I think it has to do with the architecture of the place, I mean, it wouldn’t be the same if instead of a wide promenade a huge supermarket had been built. And if the buildings were more close to each other the sense of freedom will fade away; and if they had another colour or were made out of other materials the resault would have been completely different.
In this text, Peter Zumthor shares with us his experiences and reflections related to the sensorial part of Architecture .
The text has the following extructure: first of all, the author introduces the topic by describing his impressions and meditating on them. Then he goes one by one explaining the things he takes into account when it comes to designing a building and the atmosphere he wants to achieve. After that, he adds three appendixes with which he concludes the narration.
Zumthor starts by describing an experience involving architecture but with a more sensorial approach. This is, he talks about how different factors such as light and temperature can influence us when it comes to deciding whether we like a building. And the most amazing thing it is that this can occur whithout us noticing. He talks about how our interaction with objects can be really special, even magical. That’s what he calls <The Magic of the Real>. I personally agree with him since I also think that our feelings are influenced by our environment; therefore, buildings play an important role in how people interact and behave.
He classifies the aspects that he takes into account when he creates an edifice.
First of all, he does a parallelism with architecture and anatomy in the sense that they both entail elements that cannot been perceived surperficially but which you can touch.
Secondly, he talks about materials and their endless possibilities. I have to say that it has always amazed me how some rock can become a masterpiece and how the same material can be used in completely different ways. However, I do think that it takes time and experience learning to take advantage of the versatility of the materials.
Next, he addresses the topic of sounds. In this part, not only does he talks about the noises that are caused by friction, but also about the inner sound of the buildings. He argues that each place has a different sound and that it is important for a building to be rather quiet.
The next topic he mentions is temperature. The way he sees it, temperature affects us not only physically but also psychologically. As far as I know, he is completely right. Just think the way you feel in summer and the way yoy feel in winter, it is nothing alike. That can be extrapolated to rooms.
In the fifth part he discusses objects. He makes an interesting point when he asks himself if the job of an architect is to make houses receptables to objects. I would say that it is important to take that into consideration when designing since at the end of the day, an empty house is not a home.
The next part , which is the sixth, is one of the most fascinating of the text. Here, Zumthor analyzes how we interact with our environment and how the setting of a room influences it. He explains how edifices are built up accordingly to activities that will take place there. I foud extremely inspiring the anecdote about the thermal baths and the sense of freedom he and his colleage wanted to induce. It made me think about the display of buildings and how the rooms are designed to make you stay or pass away.
The seventh part is called <Tension between Interior and Exterior>. Here, he assesses the subject of creating a enclosed space out of nowhere and the fact that we are capable of becoing aware of this subtile change between the interior and the exterior. I think that facades are greatlly important, as Zumthor says, they send a message to the world, they tell a story and protect what is inside.
The next part is called <Levels of intimacy> and it is about scale mainly and how we feel towards large structures. He analyzes the impact they have on us, as individuals and us as a group. It really is astonishing how on the one hand, there are buildings that do not intimidate you at all, in fact , they make you feel important. And on the other hand, there are buildings which definitely are overwhelming.
In the last part, the ninth, he meditates on light. He explains that it is a key factor when it comes to designing a building and one of his favourite parts. It is true that lightning can modify a room completely and some places need a specific lighting .
Finally , there are three more parts that address issues such as the surroundings of a construction and how it becomes part of the landscape; the coherence and the final aim of architecture, which is to be used, and form which is extremely relevant for the author .
If I had to describe the text briefly I would say it is eye-opening. Even though it was too abstrac for me at some points I did enjoy it since it made me stop to consider things that I had never thought tha could be related to architecture.