Anatomy of space, An introduction of new houses​​​​​​​

Master of architecture, Iran, Qazvin,​​​​​​​

Hamed Hosseinpour​​​​​​​

Abstract ​​​​​​​

Undoubtedly, the house is the most important space which interacts with humans. In recent decades, its form has not changed, and this continuation has caused some problems. Economic issues, overpopulation, lack of space, and apartment buildings are mentioned by analysts. But, we are look for other reasons in this article, such as the hidden components in the structure, And we will critically focus on the elements which are forgotten by the New Era architects. Many researchers describe concepts such as Zeitgeist and Genius loci to clarify this issue, but here, we are dealing with more simple concepts. The notion of Anatomy of space, analysis of notes found in the evacuated houses in Chernobyl disaster & also praiseworthy efforts of "Le Corbusier" and "Mies van der Rohe" applied In their works are the main point of this article.

Keywords : Space, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, House, Chernobyl disaster, Details, Functions


House is a place that has not changed its structure in recent decades. This non-deformation has led some standards to disappear, which are as follows: house as a place of relaxation or as a place to stay away from the bustle, where memories are formed, and also as an ideal place to grow. Economic issues, overpopulation, lack of space, and apartment buildings are the main problem mentioned by analysts.
Lights, colors, movements, and all of our emotions are formed by space, which is called "Home." Something that determines the importance of humans growth is the quality impact of the space has on us.the human body [1] perceives light and its type, in all cases. Sunlight always makes you feel different. Our mutual feelings for each other are formed by the same feedbacks from lights, colors, details & sounds reflection. Generally, the first thing that we consider the problem of a house is its economic issues; take a look at this sentence: "a rich man will be live in a big, beautiful house while a simple worker in small, dimly home." It's very predictable."
From an architect's point of view, some economic, small high-quality samples will be found. It draws our attention to one thing in common: Space.
praiseworthy efforts to have a new quality in spaces were started by "Le Corbusier" [2] & "Mies van der Rohe." [3]  But it took a lot of time for their concept to be known as a universal standard. It was seen as idealism, which was deserved in several famous buildings and was not established as a general rule. This is the main focus of this article.​​​​​​​

1.1 Research questions​​​​​​​

- Economic issues, overpopulation, lack of space, are the main problems mentioned by analysts, .but are these factors the main reasons for the disappearance of identities?
-What is in Le Corbusier & Mies van der Rohe's architecture that has caused the connection between humans and space?
-Can we create a new global architecture based on these new standards?
-What is the anatomy of space?

2. Space ​​​​​​​

  Space is a major ingredient in the designer's palette and the quintessential element in interior design. Through the volume of space, we not only move; we see forms, hear sounds, feel gentle breezes, and the warmth of the sun and smell the fragrances of flowers in bloom. Space inherits the sensual and aesthetic characteristics of the elements in its field.Space is not a material substance like stone and wood. It is inherently formless and diffuse. Universal space has no defining borders. Once an element is placed in its field, however, a visual relationship is established. As other elements are introduced into the field, multiple relationships are established between the space and the elements, as well as among the elements themselves. Space is formed by our perception of these relationships. [4]​​​​​​​

Fig.1.schematic design of space by Francis D.K. Ching​​​​​​​

3. Components of space ​​​​​​​

The main elements of space are not the physical ones; the factors which are not studied in the importance of space are hidden components, such as, The sense of calm- privacy - memories- safety and mental health. All of these hidden items have a direct relationship with the users. Have you ever experienced feeling good in a space? Or do you remember the space that didn't give you a good feeling? . Many researchers describe concepts such as Zeitgeist [5] and Genius loci [6] to justify these emotions. And in fact, each has its own specific background.

Fig.2. Components of space (physical and non-physical" element)

The link between these two"physical and non-physical" element can be shown by an architect. Psychological preparation in space is within an architect's abilities. To connect these parts to each other, a designer needs to focus on these important elements:


But before we get into that, let's take a look at an example related to memories and fixation. One of the thought-provoking events in history is the forced migration of people from residential areas and villages at the time of Chernobyl disaster [7]. Based on soldiers memories; there were some notes in many of evacuated houses with this content: (Dear passer, use whatever you need, but don't make the house dirty)- (Dear House, forgive us, we will remember you )- (we'll be back soon) And also notes written by children like this: (please don't kill our cat)- (Please do not let the radiation enter my room (. Some of them even wrote the date of their return. There were many notes, which referred to this subject. [8]
Many of these houses were not significant and luxurious, but those hidden components can be clearly seen in these notes. Psychological elements of a house have been represented in this example which is a small part of human interaction with space.
But let's look at the exciting and significant efforts of the architects who had these factors, and they used them in their works.

4. Le Corbusier & details ​​​​​​​

Le Corbusier stressed that the furniture, the walls, the openings to the outside all 'speak' to the inhabitant of the space. It is this idea, the idea of the "speaking" detail, that is the central focus of this book. Within the pages of "The Poem of the Right Angle" (1990), the book of lithographs and text that reflects most closely Le Corbusier's inner world, found objects - stones and bones - develop faces. They cease to be inanimate objects. They begin to communicate (Fig.3). In Le Corbusier's terms, they are radiant. [9]

Fig.3. Drawing of a stone taken from Le Corbusier's The Poem of the Right Angle (1955)

  The human hand attains the status of fetish in the work of Le Corbusier. his handprint is a mark of emphatic presence and knowledge, a knowledge gained through touch. Willing himself into a state of synaesthesia, Le Corbusier wrote that it was possible to "hear" the "music of visual proportion" of a building [10] "taste" a column with his "eyes," and so on. His eyes awaken sensations in his mouth. His hands awaken his eyes. His paintings are populated with women who appear to see, like the goddess Baubo, through their extended nipple-like eyes, as he wrote in The Poem of the Right Angle:

"Life is tasted through the kneading of the hand's eyesight resides in palpation" [11]​​​​​​​

  One of the more surprising aspects of Le Corbusier's architecture is that it is often very comfortable. The body finds itself supported, for example, on the sloped pilotis of the Maison des Jeunes at Firminy. The elbow finds its way onto the angled parapet of the Hotel in the Unité, and it is positively pleasurable to lean on the altar rail of Ronchamp (Fig.4). At the Maison du Brésel, the low walls at the back of the banquettes are formed of very smooth concrete that dips slightly in the middle to accommodate and support the elbow while being flat enough to accommodate a drink. Sketches drawn for the balconies of the Unité at Meaux give some indication of the care that he took with such matters. [12]​​​​​​​

Fig.4. Altar rail at Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp (1955)​​​​​​​

 Le Corbusier precisely knew that small details are the human and space communication factor. Due to that, he always cleverly designed even the smallest details in his projects. Many of these details were very simple and economical (fig.5). Still, draws a lot of attention to that. He usually tried to build tangible things from all small components, and that was the key to communicate with users.​​​​​​​

Fig.5. Small details designed by  Le Corbusier​​​​​​​

5. Mies van der Rohe, function, flexibility

  What is expressed from Mies van der Rohe's Architecture is minimalism and high-quality details, but the boldest feature in his designs is clear attention to function and flexibility, one of his outstanding work is Weissenhofsiedlung Apartment Block, "It was something like a mediaeval town," remarked Mies and presented a massing model that in its original version resembled less a master plan than a structural principle which, like the monument for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, was defined by a free arrangement of projecting and receding cubist forms. Mies designed a sculptural constellation of build-ing volumes that followed the contours of the site, resulting in a terraced complex that rode the arc of the hillside, the back-bone of which was his own housing block. This was a long row of buildings with a nearly north-south orientation. The building was placed on a plinth that was articulated like a step in the topography and served as a terrace for the apartments. The roof was also used as a terrace. Peter Behrens, who also contributed to the project, examined the same theme in his "terraced rental house." [13]

Fig.6. Weissenhofsiedlung Apartment Block ( Ground floor plan & upper floor plan )​​​​​​​

 The building is a steel construction with masonry wall in-fill. The skeleton frame makes it possible to arrange the floor plans more flexibly, which are designed by different architects. In his own apartment design, Mies demonstrates a system of changeable lightweight partitions that are clad in high-quality Macassar panelling and stand as a freestanding core in the room.    Mies describes his design concept as follows:
 "As you know, I intend to try out the most varied plans in this apartment house. For the time being, I am building only the out-side and common walls, and inside each apartment, only the two piers that support the ceiling. All the rest is to be as free as it possibly can be. If I could contrive to get some cheap plywood partitions made, I would treat only the kitchen and the bathroom as fixed spaces, and make the rest of the apartment variable, so that the spaces could be divided according to the needs of the individual tenant. This would have the advantage that it would make it possible to rearrange the apartment whenever family circumstances changed, without spending a lot of money on a conversion. Any carpenter, or any practically-minded layman, would be able to shift the walls." [14]

Fig.6. Weissenhofsiedlung Apartment Block​​​​​​​

  Use of materials with originality style and daring in construction lines are the characteristic of his work; these features are very obvious in Lange and Esters Houses.
Philip Johnson remarked on Mies' use of brickwork as follows: "His admiration led him to extraordinary measures: in order to insure the evenness of the bonding at corners and apertures, he calculated all dimensions in brick lengths and occasionally went so far as to separate the under-fired long bricks from the over-fired short ones, using the long in one dimension and the short in the other." [15]  The striped appearance of the brickwork that can be seen under certain lighting conditions further emphasizes the horizontality of the buildings.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Fig.7. Lange and Esters Houses ( 1927-30)​​​​​​​

 If we compare Mies & Le Corbusier's works with the work of new Era architects, some significant points can be seen. Today's architecture is full of dishonesty and meaninglessness; you see a beautiful thing, which is deceptive, a face that has no conscience, like data on social networks.

 Let's compare these two examples:​​​​​​​

Fig.8. A comparison between an old work and new sample.​​​​​​​

Maybe it is not an impartial judgment, but if we look at results of today's architecture,we would find many feint design, such as the above picture which has used rusted metal with sharp edges, at first glance, it may seem beautiful, but it does not meet acceptable standards. Just take a look at the masterpiece by Mies in 1950.

6. Anatomy of space​​​​​​​

 If you look around with a sense of touch, detailed view, and skeleton configuration, you understand how Mies and Le Corbusier dealt with space and its components. Communication with space should be like dealing with a living organism. The space around us, our room, all the details, big or small, can be the result of an architect's shrewd imposition. It can become a space that we can miss; the anatomy of space is like our body organs, which are programmed to form the skeleton, flesh, skin, and the beating heart that lives with us.

7. Conclusion​​​​​​​

  We understood very well that, Mies and Le Corbusier perceived with space as tangible living creatures. This approach was gradually weakened, and it becomes a soulless architecture. We need to make a lot of changes, but it doesn't mean that they should be a new style of architecture because that involve a lot of complexity. The best case scenario is the introduction of components of this anatomy to new architects.
We can build small and beautiful houses, but it requires to use of RAW and light materials to become an economic architecture. This article is just an introduction to further studies which will cover the RAW architecture in detail.

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