Architecture & enlightenment: An exploration of the experiential possibilities of the constituents of architecture

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Horvath, Nina
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Austin, Michael
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
spirituality in architecture
emotion in architecture
meditation centre design
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Horvath, N. (2010). Architecture & enlightenment: An exploration of the experiential possibilities of the constituents of architecture. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
There is a general acknowledgement of the lack of spiritual and emotional richness in contemporary architecture. This thesis attempts to address the issue of normalised and emotionless architecture, through the design of a Zen Centre for meditation and other community activities that unite the body and mind. The project was grounded in the belief in the potential and ability of the key architectural constituents ‐ structure, form, space, light, colours and materials ‐ to produce an emotionally rich architecture. The investigation also involved extensive research into architectural precedents, the phenomenology of human perception and cognition, and the intangible qualities, or the essence and meaning of a spiritual architecture. A key element of the design methodology were the concepts of ‘bliss’ and ‘flow’, which involved creative immersion in freehand modelling and pencil sketching, and supported the notion of ‘sensory thinking’ through the use of the hands in creative work. The resultant scheme has an inseparable relationship to the theory behind the project and exists as a fusion of ideas from numerous strands of research on spiritual precedents, the architectural constituents, human perception and cognition and Zen philosophy.
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