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Redefining Structural Art: A Neuroaesthetics Perspective on the Art of Structural Design

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Abstract

Structural art should not be marginalised as an integral part of structural design. By reviewing historical understandings of structural art, this article discusses the ambiguous and neglected perspective of structural art on architectural design and human perception dimensions, concentrating the attention of structural art on the question of human aesthetic perception. Based on significant changes in how art is perceived due to recent neuroaesthetics research, this article introduces recent findings from cognitive neuroscience regarding embodied perception principles, sheds new light on the aesthetic experiences inherent in the built environment, and clarifies and expands previously held beliefs about structural art. Finally, while emphasising the significance of structural art, this article attempts to provide a body-informed perspective on structural art that can aid in incorporating human neuroaesthetic perception principles during the conceptual phase of the structural design process, thereby redefining the effect of structures on architectural space and aesthetics, thus redefining structural art.
Vol.:(0123456789)
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Architecture, Structures and Construction
https://doi.org/10.1007/s44150-022-00027-y
ORIGINAL PAPER
Redefining Structural Art: ANeuroaesthetics Perspective ontheArt
ofStructural Design
ShuaizhongWang1 · ToniKotnik2· JosephSchwartz1
Received: 27 October 2021 / Accepted: 18 February 2022
© The Author(s) 2022
Abstract
Structural art should not be marginalised as an integral part of structural design. By reviewing historical understandings of
structural art, this article discusses the ambiguous and neglected perspective of structural art on architectural design and
human perception dimensions, concentrating the attention of structural art on the question of human aesthetic perception.
Based on significant changes in how art is perceived due to recent neuroaesthetics research, this article introduces recent
findings from cognitive neuroscience regarding embodied perception principles, sheds new light on the aesthetic experi-
ences inherent in the built environment, and clarifies and expands previously held beliefs about structural art. Finally, while
emphasising the significance of structural art, this article attempts to provide a body-informed perspective on structural
art that can aid in incorporating human neuroaesthetic perception principles during the conceptual phase of the structural
design process, thereby redefining the effect of structures on architectural space and aesthetics, thus redefining structural art.
Keywords Structural art· Structural aesthetics· Neuroaesthetics· Perception· Embodiment· Affordance
Introduction
Building structures are shaped by both their technical and
artistic dimensions [1, 2]. From ancient Greek to Roman
Thermae to Gothic Churches, these past architectural mar-
vels result from a marriage of technology and art. However,
by the mid-nineteenth century, the advances in science and
technology render the prior art of architecture obsolete,
bringing an end to the era of intuitive construction tech-
niques [3]. The architect who mastered the entire architec-
tural design process gradually relinquished control of the
structural design and construction processes. Engineers are
more concerned with the technical implementation of spatial
structures, whereas architects are concerned with realising
the relationship between architecture, art, and social func-
tion [4]. Structural thinking evolved into a tool for structural
calculations and mechanical analysis in order to support the
building’s form, and “structural design” became “structural
analysis.” This separation of technology and art resulted in
two interdependent static principles in structural design:
mechanical and artistic.
However, architects and structural engineers havemar-
ginalisedthe aesthetic aspect of structural design to focus
exclusively on the technical aspects [5]. And this is not an
exhaustive description of structural thought. The relation-
ship between architecture and structure has been the subject
of considerable debate throughout the twentieth century.
Many studies have been devoted to the design-oriented per-
spective on structural design.1 As one of the most widely
known definitions, David Billington’s ground-breaking
book, The Tower and the Bridge, proposed a definition of
structural art in 1983 to explain further the significance of
art and design in structural design. It had a sizable influence
on subsequent generations of architects and structural engi-
neers. Unfortunately, their discussions of structural art were
frequently restricted to large-scale structures such as bridges,
large-spanning structures, thin-shelled vaults/roofs, and
towers [6]. However, structures are not simply large-scale
* Shuaizhong Wang
shuaizhong.wang@arch.ethz.ch
1 Department ofArchitecture, ETH Zürich, Zürich,
Switzerland
2 Department ofArchitecture, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
1 For related research, see for example, Torroja, M. E., Polivka, J. J.,
& Polivka, M. (1958). Philosophy of structures. Berkeley: University
of California Press; Nervi, P. L. (1965). Architecture, Aesthetics and
technology in building. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
infrastructures or public buildings; they are also intimate and
small-scale elements that pervade our daily lives. Structural
art is more likea concept than the artistic forms typically
found in large structures [5]. The structural concept in small
and medium-sized buildings also significantly impacts all
aspects of the building space and daily life. Therefore, it
would be irresponsible for a structural engineer to delegate
the artistic aspects of structure to the architect, as this would
significantly reduce the scope and degree of the structural
designer’s contribution of creativity and expression.
The purpose of this article is to bring attention to an often-
overlooked aspect of structural art from an architectural
design perspective. Compared to the existing structural art
in large structures, this articlefocuses on structural art in
architecture, which is more relevant to people’s daily lives.
Through a review and analysis of structural art in architectural
design, the article focuses on the perception aspect of struc-
ture, especially embodied perception. In order to clarify the
poetic and artistic perception principles of structure, the arti-
cle introduces recent neuroscience findings on “neuroaesthet-
ics”. It elucidates the logic and methods behind the structural
art found in selected buildings through the lens of neuroaes-
thetics’ principle of aesthetic judgement. The article aims
to dissolve the boundaries between architects and structural
engineers and establish a new collaborative relationship that
promotes artistic integration between the spatial and structural
qualities of architecture.
The inadequate consideration ofstructural
art
Already in 25BC, the Roman architect Vitruvius coined the
terms firmitas, utilitas and venustas as the basis for archi-
tectural and structural design [7]. In the nineteenth century,
many structural engineers were dissatisfied with the bland
monotony of technical presentation and initiated their “A
New Tradition: Art in Engineering” to recognise the impor-
tance of aesthetics. In 1812, British engineer Thomas Telford
coined the term “Structural Art,” defining it as the individual
expression of structure within the discipline of material effi-
ciency, construction economy, and final form appearance
[4, pp. 3–24]. The Eiffel Tower (Fig.1), designed by Gus-
tave Eiffel in 1887, is the most emblematic example of this
way of thinking. The Eiffel Tower successfully combines
mechanics, structure, and aesthetics through steel, resulting
in an artistic expression that combines grandeur, elegance,
and lightness. It is worth noting that the Eiffel Tower’s four
arches are not integral to the overall structure but rather rep-
resent a compromise between visual security and aesthetic
considerations for classical structural elements [8]. Thus, the
design of the Eiffel Tower is influenced by mechanical and
engineering considerations and cultural and artistic ones.
In 1983, American engineer David Billington devel-
oped the term “structural art” and gave recognition to many
prominent structural artists [4]. He defined three disciplines
of structural art as Efficiency, Economy, and Elegance,
empathising this trend as a new type of art inspired by new
technological innovations that are “entirely the work of engi-
neers and of the engineering imagination[4, p. 4].” Later on,
these criteria of structural art were complemented into three
perspectives: scientific, social, and symbolic [6].2 Billington
and Garlock also pointed out that a work of structural art
is always generated from one’s ability to imagine and con-
ceive a new structural form, visualising the final appearance,
determining it by calculation, and formulating a method for
constructing the structure [9]. However, this understanding
of structural art is still confined to engineer-based projects
such as bridges, towers, and high-rise buildings.
The master builders such as Eduardo Torroja, Pier Luigi
Nervi, Heinz Isler, Sergio Musmeci, Felix Candela, and Frei
Otto also practised similar concepts regarding structural
art. They formed a group of engineers concerned with the
architectural significance of structures that emerged in the
mid-twentieth century, later dubbed “engineer-architects”
[10].3 For example, in Aesthetics and technology in build-
ing, Nervi presented the term “correctness,” which refers to
the bare minimum that should be attained in architecture, is
Fig. 1 The Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1889. Photo: Nikolija Grozdanovic
2 Due to the environmental requirements, recent researches have also
added ecological and ethical imperatives to Billington’s three-E-prin-
ciples. See J. A. Ochsendorf, “Eladio Dieste as Structural Artist,” in
Eladio Dieste: innovation in structural art, Princeton, Princeton Uni-
versity Press, 2004, p. 95.
3 Relate articles see for example Nervi, Pier Luigi, Giuseppina Salva-
dori, and Mario Salvadori. 1956. Structures. New York: F.W. Dodge
Corp; Chilton, J., & Isler, H. (2000). Heinz Isler. London: T. Telford;
Otto, F., Schanz, S., & Robinson, M. (2001). Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch:
finding form: Towards an architecture of the minimal. Fellbach: Edi-
tion Axel Menges.
Architecture, Structures and Construction
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defined further as stability, durability, and material selection
according to their natural features as well as functional and
economic efficiency [11]. He even emphasises that beauty
transcends such “correctness.” While technology provides
solutions and form, architecture is the result of adaptations
to these proposals [12, p. 253]. Unlike previous structural
art, which focused exclusively on the structure, engineer-
architects have begun integrating structure with architec-
tural function and space. They strive to balance their work
between structural integrity, formal artistry, and architectural
space. The form became a critical medium for achieving this
balance: rather than accumulating materials, the form was
used to create solid structuresthat became an expression
of the designer’s aesthetic values and the container for the
architectural space.
Since the 1990s, the pursuit of structural aesthetics has
acquired a new dimension. The advancement of computer-
aided design software and the emergence of new construc-
tion techniques have significantly increased structural tech-
nology and performance, thereby enriching architecture’s
formal artistic vocabulary. This performance-driven struc-
tural thinking has driven the development of, for example,
Performative Architecture [13]. This highly technical and
performance-oriented structural art can be used almost
quantitatively to assess or forecast a building’s function, sta-
bility, economy, and so on, and thus eliminate suboptimal
results. For instance, topology optimisation has been exten-
sively studied and practised in order to determine the form
of a structure. Besides, there is no shortage of more subtle
concerns and aesthetic explorations of the structure among
adherents of the technical philosophy [14]. For example,
many digital fabrication researchers have included artistic
dimensions in their parametric explorations.4 However, their
explorations were limited mainly to experiments with novel
materials and construction methods on small-scale struc-
tures, which can be interpreted as a further examination of
engineer-architects’ thinking in the context of technologi-
cal advancement. However, these extreme technical pursuits
constrained the structure’s artistic or perceptual thinking.
Many of these constraints on structural art stem from
engineers constantly being confronted with two widespread
structural design myths: the belief that an efficient struc-
ture is inherently elegant and that a beautiful structure must
be expensive [15]. H. Seymour Howard, for example, has
elaborated on this point. He divides the structure into four
categories: “minimal”, “adequate”, “formal” or “sculptural”,
and “pretentious”. He emphasises the importance of both
“visible” and “hidden” structures in terms of art and the
emotional perception they impart on people, as well as their
load-bearing efficiency and economics, in introducing these
four types of structure. As a result, he stressed that “what is
‘best for the structure’ is not necessarily best for the building
as a whole” [12, p. 255]. Meanwhile, an excessive emphasis
on structural forms, such as “structure for structure’s sake,”
is also inappropriate [16]. Schlaich points out that a struc-
tural form’s aesthetic expressions are not simply a desire to
discover an ornamental form, nor is it a subordination of its
technical function; otherwise, a building would be overd-
esigned and devoid of any semblance of structural art [17].
To fully realise the art of structure at all levels and scales, we
must transform the structure into a synthesis of two aspects
– technology and art – which can only be accomplished col-
laboratively between architects and engineers [18]. However,
the structural art mentioned previously, distinct from the
architect, is insufficient to achieve this balance.
Therefore, structural art can not be reduced to large-
scale infrastructures such as bridges and towers or small-
scale architectural vignettes defined solely in engineering
efficiency and economics. Not only are structures used in
engineering, but the art of structural design also plays a sig-
nificant role in determining architectural space in everyday
architecture. Howard has emphasised the importance of rein-
tegrating structural techniques into the art of architectural
design. Every aspect of the final structure must be consid-
ered during this early stage of development if the structure
is to meet the art and societal requirements. Beauty cannot
be added after practical considerations have been addressed,
and the engineer should also be involved in preliminary stud-
ies [16]. Only when the art of structure is integrated with the
art of architecture can designers think and design the art of
structure holistically.
To balance the structure’s technical and artistic aspects, it
is necessary to discuss what constitutes a “moderate” struc-
ture. Fritz Schumacher proposed the “dual truth concept” in
this regard, which discussed the relationship between archi-
tectural art and structural technology on a rather abstract
level. He believes that “technical truth” is the starting point
for “artistic truth,” which is achieved through an emphatic
or symbolic reinterpretation of “technical truth’s” char-
acteristics [19, p. 228]. Nervi expands on this concept of
‘artistic truth’ by coining the term “Truth Plus” [12, p. 254].
He argues that the structure’s load-bearing function should
serve as the inspiration and driving force for its form, which
can be slightly adapted to aesthetic requirements and intui-
tive perceptions. Nervi divides the design process into two
stages in this manner. The first stage is objective and deals
exclusively with technical issues, whereas the second stage
is subjective and cannot be governed by rules or logic. He
argues that a structure can only be considered “correct” if
4 For example, “the robotic touch” described by Fabio Gramazio and
Matthias Kohler: Gramazio, F., Kohler, M., & Willmann, J. (2014).
The robotic touch: how robots change architecture. Park Books,
Zurich; or the construction experiments by Achim Menges: Menges,
A. (2012). Material computation: Higher integration in morphoge-
netic design. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
both objective and subjective dimensions are balanced [11].
Thus, the efficiency of structures is discussed in terms of not
only forceand economy, but also perception and aesthetics.
For example, Ove Arup calls this type of assessment “aes-
thetic accountancy”, which seeks a balance between cost,
functionality, and aesthetics [20, p. 242]. However, it will be
challenging to judge aesthetic merit because the parameters
must be weighed relative to cost and efficiency.
To better understand this “aesthetic accountancy” and to
weigh them appropriately during the structural design pro-
cess, it is necessary to understand the underlying principles
of how people perceive structural art and the effect of struc-
tures on their aesthetic experience. While the load-bearing
part of the structure can quickly be evaluated througheffi-
ciency and economy criteria, what about the structure’s
elegance or artistic aspect? Billington once stated, “Only
when people begin to sense the emotion, the passion in a
work of structure do they begin to recognise it as art [21].”
He also questions doctrinaire structural honesty, arguing that
we can think in the opposite direction, delving into the per-
spective that beauty is derived from form. He notes that, in
addition to efficiently expressing force, Howard’s “adequate
structure” must communicate the concept of structural art
in a way that the general public understands. The reason
for considering the influence of form on the structure is to
incorporate how people observe and perceive structural form
into the design process—because the designed structure
and its purpose must be comprehensible to the user [12, pp.
241–259].
The scholars mentioned above, such as Billington, are
attempting to balance a moderate representation of structure
from the structural engineer’s perspective based onthe crite-
ria of efficiency and economy. However,the art of structure
is not simply about utilising the least amount of material and
constructing the lightest structure, nor a purely formal game.
Various studies on the design and expression of structures
have also been conducted throughout architecture’s history.
As Billington emphasises, the relationship between a struc-
ture’s physical load-bearing structure and its artistic expres-
sion and how to achieve a balance between the two has
always been a matter of perception—of how one perceives
and understands the artistic dimension of the structure.
The question ofstructural expression
From an engineering standpoint, the Eiffel Tower is a mas-
terpiece of structure art, conveying the structure’s artistic
properties while utilising as little material as possible in
combination with steel, a novel material at the time. How-
ever, this choice of minimal materials sparked numerous
debates at the time, with people expressing astonishment at
the structure’s “fleshless” or “massless” expression, while
also raising serious doubts about the engineering minimal-
ism’s ability to meet the demands of the people: “…the
human skeleton is surely the most perfect work of engineer-
ing. But for my eye, when it is in search of beauty, it is the
blooming flesh that is decisive.” [22, pp. 3–4].” Some artists
of the era even advocated for the tower’s demolition [23].
The debate over the Eiffel Tower’s structural expression is
similar to Auguste Choisy’s condemnation of the fan vaults
of the Henry VII Chapel as a substitution of science for art.
Choisy argued that good architecture could not rely solely
on technique, but required a proper judgement of aesthetic
effect, and that rational thinking about structure should not
be interpreted as a structural form that obeys the laws of
physics [24]. Similarly, while the Eiffel Tower satisfies some
of the structure’s technical requirements, it falls short of bal-
ancing many considerations of expression as a whole.
The relationship between ontology and representation in
the “bone” and “skin” of the Eiffel Tower structure has been
widely discussed throughout architecture history. For exam-
ple, the Kernform and Kunstform (meaning core-form and
art-form) from Karl Bötticher [25], or the Raiment theory
from Gottfried Semper [26]. Eduard F. Sekler dismantles
the tension that exists between them in his article Structure,
Construction, and Tectonics. He defines structures as “the
more general and abstract concept refers to a system or prin-
ciple of arrangement destined to cope with forces at work
in building [27, p. 89].”The structure is an “intangible con-
cept” that is “realised through construction and visualised
through tectonics [27, p. 92].”As a result, structures are con-
strained on the one hand by the construction technique and
on the other by the perceptual representation of the tectonic
form. And this intangible part of the structure, which is the
other half apart from technology, demonstrates the critical
nature of structural expression—the abstract structure can
only be experienced as the materialised result of a tectonic
expression. Sekler’s emphasis on the “visual” dimension of
structure elucidates the essential medium through which
the structure is experienced—perception. Therefore, Sekler
defines “construction” as the process by which an architect
infuses his or her own emotions into the expression of the
structure and stimulates his or her “plastic emotions” [27].
Along with this “intangible concept”, Billington and Gar-
lock also emphasised that a work of structural art is always
the product of one person’s ability to imagine and conceive
a new structural form, to visualise the final appearance, to
define it by calculations, and to develop a means of build-
ing the structure [28]. Pier Luigi Nervi also emphasises the
indisputablephysical and artistic aspects of structure and
relates the art of structure to the subjective factors that gen-
erate aesthetic feelings [11].
While many architects (in collaboration with others)
create art out of structural rationality to transcend it,his-
tory reveals that their motivations for illustrating the
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
beauty of structural art are somewhat different and can-
not be quantified in the same way as a structure’s physi-
cal load-bearing capacity. Furthermore, structural design
intentions should not be restricted to professionals; struc-
tures should communicate what ordinary people can per-
ceive as well. The laypersons perception, on the other
hand, is based on everyday experiences. Even engineers
occasionally struggle to comprehend the behaviour of spe-
cific structures until they see drawings illustrating hidden
members and details, ground anchors, or reinforcement
[20, p. 247]. As a result, designers should limit themselves
to structural forms that are comprehensible to those who
are not trained in the discipline. In architectural contexts,
structural art is complex, influenced by various histori-
cal, cultural, and contextual factors (scientific, social, and
symbolic). The challenge then becomes how to construct
a structural expression that is shared by individuals uni-
versally with varying levels of knowledge.
Harry Francis Mallgrave writes in the prologue to Style
that Semper’s study of reading internal forces in forms
resulted in the sprouting of empathy in the fields of archi-
tecture and art towards the end of the nineteenth century
[29, pp. 1–70]. Friedrich Theodor Vischer, influenced by
Semper, believes that the human sense of form is a sympa-
thetic projection of the environment [2]. And subsequently,
his son Robert Vischer extended this projection into Einfüh-
lung in his doctoral dissertation, which was later translated
as empathy. Empathy is a term that refers to the capacity to
comprehend and “feel into” other things. It is the primary
reason for the unified human perception of form. Later on,
Heinrich Wölfflin, an art historian, proposed a physiognomic
method for empathy. He contends that “physical forms pos-
sess a character only because we ourselves possess a body
… as human beings with a body that teaches us the nature of
gravity, contraction, strength and so on, we gather the experi-
ence that enables us to identify with the conditions of other
forms [30].” Wölfflin emphasised in his PhD dissertation
that the principle of perception is not a mysterious visionary
effect but a bodily mediating effect. This is because our body
is capable of differentiating between the embodied form of
architecture and its internal forces [30]. Wölfflin’s study of
“force” in Renaissance and Baroque architecture focuses on
how the body has been employed as a “metaphor for force”
to experimentally “experience” psychological tension and
compression [30, 31]. He demonstrates that the “force” of
structure exists not only on a physical level but also on a psy-
chological level via empathy induced by embodiment. Sekler
also draws a parallel between tectonics and artistic expression
in his description of structural perception, arguing that struc-
tural expression is an empathy between the built environment
and the human body [27], thereby intensifying one’s experi-
ence of the internal forces manifested in structural forms.
The research on empathy and phenomenology, as well
as their human body metaphor, all attempt to explain
that the body is the most direct way for us to understand
space, architecture, and the world [32]. These inextrica-
ble connections between architecture and body enable the
integration of bodily perception and structural reasoning
into a unified architectural design logic. Verticality (spa-
tial orientation), gravity (forces), balance, and motion in
architecture are defined mainly and constituted by archi-
tectural structures [33]. These structural elements imply,
direct, and organise our perception of the function of
space and how we might interact with architecture [34].
In this perspective, the body becomes a medium for per-
ception, linking abstract meaning and the concrete world.
The study of empathy has been tackled in many architec-
tural designs and research throughout history, focusing
on how humans psychologically and biologically per-
ceive structures expressed through the human body. For
instance, as Steen Eiler Rasmussen explains in Experienc-
ing Architecture, it is not sufficient to “see” architecture
to authentically experience and comprehend it; instead, it
is necessary to experience the space holistically, integrat-
ing the senses of visual, tactile, and auditory [35]. And
because this holistic spatial experience is organised by the
human body and is inextricably linked to bodily behav-
ioural patterns, the body may be viewed as the foundation
for constructing the perception of architectural space. The
perspective of embodied perceptions is closely associated
with the development of phenomenology in the twentieth
century. As phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty wrote that
“the body is our general medium for having the world
[36]”, describes the way we are in the world is essentially
through an embodied experience, rather than the visual
stimuli alone. The bodily movement is a spontaneous con-
struction of intentionality of the external, and a spontane-
ous experience and reaction to the external, which is inde-
pendent of any conscious representation of the external
[36]. This means the intentionality of human experience
is always addressed to the relationship and interaction
between the body and the external object, not the exter-
nal object itself. However, technology-oriented formalism
has been the primary driver of empathy theory since the
early twentieth century. What was lacking instructural
design was a scientific foundation for explaining or dem-
onstrating the principles underlying how humans read and
respond to structural expressions [37]. Notably, recent
neuroscience research can more clearly and methodically
corroborate these embodiment-related ideas and hypoth-
eses about the relationship between structures and the
body. In Cognitive Neuroscience, similar to the theories
of empathy, the embodiment is the central and indispen-
sable awareness.
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
The Neuroaesthetics perspective
ofstructural art
Neuroscience research has shown an increasing interest
in art and aesthetics over the last decade. Modern brain
imaging techniques (such as fMRI) have revolutionised our
understanding of aesthetics. Semir Zeki is a neuroscientist
who pioneered this field by coining the term “neuroaes-
thetics” [38]. Which is a study of the brain-body system to
better understand what aesthetic work means intrinsically to
humans [39]. In this context, the term “aesthetics” is used
primarily in the bodily sense, as derived from the Greek
aisthesis; it refers to the sensorimotor and affective proper-
ties of our perception of things. These aesthetic components
are a physical manifestation of the multimodal perception
available to our body. The experience of architecture can be
deconstructed into its bodily grounding elements through
the application of experimental aesthetics [40].
The mid-1990s discovery of mirror neurons bolsters
this body-based aesthetic perspective [41]. It has been
shown those mirror neurons in macaques’ premotor and
posterior parietal cortex fire when an action is observed
and executed [42]. This mirror neuron system (MNS) also
exists in the human ventral premotor cortex and the pos-
terior parietal cortex. Based on these findings, the human
brain is active in both first- and third-person experiences
of motor actions and emotions. So this explains the feel-
ings of empathetic involvement with architectural actions.
Furthermore, it shows that the traditional understanding
of human perception is biased and inaccurate [43]. This
embodied thinking can scientifically support the discus-
sions of embodied perception in empathy theory and
phenomenology.
Gallese proposed the concept of “embodied simula-
tion” based on mirror neurons to explain further how
humans not only “see” the built environment but also feel
and simulate emotions and actions within it via the body
[44]. Embodied simulation is a functional mechanism that
enables us to make a pre-reflectivesense of others’ behav-
iour, emotions, and feelings. Through this mechanism, the
actions, emotions, and feelings we observe activate our
internal representations of the bodily states associated
with these social stimuli, as if we were performing similar
actions or experiencing comparable emotions or feelings
[45]. Gallese thus links action, perception and cognition
into a unified and interconnected domain. Additionally,
recent research indicates that our embodied simulations
are not restricted to the social world. Humans possess the
“precognitive capacity to mirror the tactile values of all
objects or forms in our environments, both living and non-
living [46]”. This establishes a robust theoretical founda-
tion for design thinking that uses the built environment to
influence how humans perceive space. Embodied simula-
tion appears to be a fundamental feature of our brain, ena-
bling a rich and varied experience of space, objects, and
other people; it also underpins our capacity for empathy.
Recently, it has been suggested that the term ‘empathy’
be replaced by the concept of embodied simulation [46].
Mirror neurons function by retrieving memories of previ-
ous bodily experiences and emotional states. They evoke the
past bodily experience and mood associated with that bodily
gesture directly and unconsciously, demonstrating our capac-
ity to read into things. This may account for the perceptual
similarity between a structural engineer and a non-structural
person – they share a nearly identical physical structure. Fol-
lowing the unconscious impression, the structural engineer’s
or other people’s knowledge will manifest in the conscious
and analytical reading of the structural system.
The finding of embodied simulation is based on the prem-
ise that perception and cognition are fundamentally depend-
ent on an organism’s interaction with its environment [47,
48]. It argues that embodiment is an active mode of move-
ment and experience for our bodies, an active “experiential
understanding” of our environment [44, 49]. And it is pre-
cisely these activations of embodied mechanisms of simu-
lated action, emotion, and bodily sensation that underpin an
aesthetic experience of art. Furthermore, Freedberg and Gal-
lese emphasise that embodied simulation can be motivated
by both static and dynamic artistic representations [40].
For example, when the viewer is confronted with a twisted
Romanesque column, the visual perception of the twisted
column’s form can also induce a corresponding state of ten-
sion in the body’s muscles (Fig.2) [50]. Thus, they believe
that the embodied perspective on aesthetic experience can
be divided into two parts: first, the relationship between the
Fig. 2 The twisted column in Rome Lateran cloister. Archbasilica of
Saint John Lateran, Rome, 1735. Photo: Kodiak
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
observer’s empathic feelings induced by embodied simula-
tion and the expression (of the actions, intentions, objects,
emotions, and feelings depicted in the painting, sculpture,
or architecture); and second, the relationship between the
observer’s empathic feelings induced by embodied simula-
tion and the visible traces of the making process (e.g. brush
strokes and traces of movement in a painting or in the com-
position of an object) [40].
To further illustrate the aesthetic relationship between
human embodied principles and architectural space, it is nec-
essary to understand what motivates us to havean embodied
action. As Gallese stated,“The primordial quality turning
space, objects, and behaviour into intentional objects is their
constitution as objects of the motor intentionality that our
body’s motor potentialities express [51].” Thus, the specific
intentional interactions that objects specify—that is, how
they are intended to be manipulated and used—constitute a
substantial part of their representational content, regardless
of whether they are artificial or not.
Gibson coined the term affordance to refer to the potential
usability, interactions, and meanings that the action possi-
bilities of things may provide for people [52]. Similar to
Heidegger’s central tenet that our primary mode of being
is essentially a pragmatic, action-oriented encounter with
our environment [53], affordances are intended to describe
the potentially valuable modes of interaction that emerge
from people’s potential perceptual behaviour. The inher-
ent structure of people’s experiences of architectural envi-
ronments, according to affordance, is determined by their
adaptability and ability to move and act. Recent research
has also revealed a strong correlation between openness and
the desire to move through space [54], and a tendency for
people to perceive open spaces as more beautiful [55]. This
can also be interpreted as an aesthetic experience triggered
by the increased affordance and interaction possibilities cre-
ated by openness. It proves what Lipps has suggested, this
motor simulation mechanism, combined with the emotional
resonance it elicits, is a critical component of the aesthetic
experience of architectural objects: even a still-life can be
“animated” by the embodied simulation it elicits in the
observer’s brain [50].
Thus, starting with the premise that architecture is a
design for affordance, we can argue that the possibility of
embodied action intrinsically shapes people’s experience of
architecture. More precisely, architectural-body communi-
cationcan be defined as the conceptual connection between
bodily patterns and the “enacted” affordances of the built
environment [48]. Thus, the experience of architectural
space is formed through the interaction of our bodies with
the affordances of space.
The concept of neuroaesthetics is clarified through
the lens of affordances. It elaborated on how aesthetics
arises from everything that contributes to our capacity for
meaningful experience [56, 57]. For example, if the vertical-
ity and mass of the architectonic structure are in harmony
with the body, they will be perceived as a pleasant disposi-
tion [58]. Aesthetics, in this sense, are derived primarily
from bodily connotation, bodily enactive processes, and
bodily experience. Thus, the primary goal of architectural
aesthetic expression is to establish a predicted connection
between bodily systems and architectural spaces [59]. Simi-
larly, aesthetic evaluation can be defined as the process of
judging and making sense of an object’s gesture or action in
relation to the body and motor system [48]. Thus, architec-
tural experience and aesthetic quality can be broken down
into their “grounding bodily elements [60, p. 164].” This is
one of the primary reasons we find symmetrical, well-pro-
portioned, and regular objects more aesthetically pleasing
than irregular and asymmetrical objects [61]. Neuroscience
research has extended the previous superficial analogy of
bodily proportions and geometric relationships to the bodily
experience.5 That is, the consideration of bodily sensations
and balance related to the body experience should be a core
part of the structure-oriented design. In comparison to the
previous passive perspective of understanding architecture
through the body, neuroscience reverses the relationship
between architecture and the body, encouraging us to con-
sider architecture through the body’s lens actively and to
incorporate the body’s experience into the structure’s design
from the beginning, thereby influencing its possible artistic
expression.6 As more attention is paid to the relationship
between architecture and neuroscience, more concrete and
practical applications will be tackled by future research.
Along with neuroaesthetics, the neural activation of our
bodily aesthetic experience is equally significant and com-
plex [62]. The purpose of embodied activation is to elicit an
empathic response/engagement from the building’s observer
and to align the architect’s intended targeted motions to elicit
an embodied simulation concerning the design intention.
Varela etal. argue that our perception results from active
and dynamic interactions with our environment [48]. This is
referred to as an enactive approach. Similarly, the embodi-
ment can be regarded as the crucial factor for the emergence
of cognition, which seeks to exist in meaningful relation-
ships with its environment. It is modulated by how sensory-
motor patterns are memorised through pastbodily experi-
ence, which portrays perception as an active process rather
5 For more details about the relationship between bodily proportion
and architecture, see Scholfield, P. H. (1958). The theory of propor-
tion in architecture. Cambridge: University Press.
6 For an example of a graphical method for actively involving
embodiment in structural design, see: Wang, S., Kotnik, T., Schwartz,
J., & Cao, T. (2022). Equilibrium as the common ground: Introducing
embodied perception into structural design with graphic statics. Fron-
tiers of Architectural research.
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
than something that happens to us passively [63]. Therefore,
the enaction could emerge only by labelling the embodiment
in the built environment. This eliciting of the embodied per-
ception is called the arousal of enactive.
Arousal, defined as “a general pattern of sympathetic
nervous system excitation” [64, p. 379], explains that peo-
ple are motivated to take actions in order to maintain an
optimal level of physiological arousal, and thus must be
labelled through an interpretive process of the environ-
ment [65]. According to Mandler, arousal is a critical factor
in eliciting emotional behaviour [66], and it is intimately
related to stimulating curiosity, attention, and motivation
[54]. Berlyne asserted that the attraction arouses curiosity
because of a “conceptual conflict” in perception, which can
be triggered by doubt, perplexity, contradiction, incongruity,
or irrelevance [67]. Additionally, research indicates that the
sensory-motor system is perceptive of contrast, grouping,
and symmetry [68]. These features have also been demon-
strated in recent neuroaesthetics research to be critical for
the emergence of aesthetic experience. Additionally, both
low and high arousal levels result in suboptimal perfor-
mance, whereas a moderate level of arousal results in opti-
mal performance. If the organism’s arousal levels fall below
optimal levels, it will seek stimulation through exploratory
behaviour. This indicates that either too little or too much
stimulation is frequently ignored by individuals, leaving
them with little opportunity to gain aesthetic experience [67,
69]. These findings already provide a possible answer to the
structural engineers’ question of what constitutes a moderate
structure from an artistic perspective.
Thus, architectural aesthetic experience can be under-
stood from an embodied perspective as the process of label-
ling a bodily resonance with the built environment, which
also holds true for structural aesthetics. Architects and
structural engineers’ primary function, in the most primitive
sense, is to house the body and celebrate the force of grav-
ity because gravity is what keeps us there. Without gravity,
the body-structure metaphor would be meaningless. These
neuroaesthetics findings bear an uncanny resemblance to
Wölfflin’s empathic perspective on force flow in the Gothic
church structure based on the body. Neuroaesthetics’ find-
ings help us better understand the principles that underpin
our perception of structure and how we can use these prin-
ciples to think about and create structural art.
Redening structural art
Embodied structural art
The Eiffel Tower, as mentioned previously, is a representa-
tive example of Structural Rationalism, a movement whose
focus on performance and objective realism significantly
influenced how structural art is interpreted, placing it
directly against decoration. This claim about structure’s
inherent authenticity is also mapped in theories of empathy
in art. Neurosciencehas the potential to resolve thislong-
standing debate about the relationship between authentic-
ity and expressiveness (ornamentation), a debate that stems
from the perceptual dichotomy between technique and art,
structure and architecture [2]. Neuroscience suggests that
architecture is not always an authentic expression of struc-
tural logic and that the proper conveyance of structural
expression to the embodiment of bodily gestures and muscle
experiences, as well as the stimulation of bodily movement
and interaction, are the true objectives of structural design—
to influence and enhance design intentions positively. Thus,
structural technology is not the end but the beginning; with
structural technology as the foundation, architects must con-
sider how to express the structure’s humanity and artistic
dimension or design an “embodied structure.” As Antoine
Picon argues in his study of the concept of ornament, there
is never a clear distinction between structure and ornament,
but rather a dynamic operation of distinction between sup-
port and supported, as with the column, which serves as
both support and ornament for the building [70, pp. 37–42].
Choisy also uses Gothic architecture as an example, argu-
ing that it is only when ingenuity and camouflage are used
wholly and effectively within the structure that a true archi-
tectural organism results [24].
For instance, in the 860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apart-
ments (Fig.3),Rudolph explained that Mies was well aware
that his thin columns would not provide the necessary sense
of security in a tall structure, and thus introduced his famous
H mullions as a symbol for the column, allowing the cur-
tain wall to be so continuous that it could be seen from the
outside. While such considerations may bring up the struc-
tural issue of “honesty” [12, p. 180]. However, this structural
expression can be interpreted as a realistic representation of
force flow at the body’s level of perception: it reinforces the
structure’s “artistic truth” in terms of perceptual continuity.
Fig. 3 H mullions on the façade of 860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apart-
ments, Chicago, 1949. Photo: Marc Rochkind
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
Thus, no inherent and essential structural expression exists
when the viewer’s perception of structural form is associated
with prior bodily experience.
It cannot be denied that, as Billington etal. point out, the
structural art of maximising compliance with construction
logic and authenticity remains critical in terms of econom-
ics and energy. The purpose of this paper is not to erase
the previous research on structural art, but to broaden our
understanding of the dynamic relationships between con-
struction, structure, and tectonics through the lens of spatial
experience. As previously stated, the concept of “moderate
structure” exists because structural art is not about optimis-
ing structural performance but about following and express-
ing the logic of force transmission within structures on a
perceptual level. At the experiential level, the primary indi-
cator of a structure’s authenticity is how closely its artistic
expression resonates with the body’s internal forces. How-
ever, using structure solely for artistic expression is equiva-
lent to decoration, and inventing form without regard for its
primary load-bearing function is an even more egregious
example of putting the cart before the horse.
Additionally, in some cases, the pursuit of maximum
structural performance and technical aspects is motivated
primarily by the desire to achieve a specific type of struc-
tural art, such as the expression of the structure’s immovable
movement (tendency to move). In these instances, the direct
representation of the structural form via mirror perception
may elicit an internal resonance in the body. Of course, in
many cases, we can also see a difference—the structure
does not directly resonate with the body, but its absence or
anomalies can stimulate the imagination of the structure,
which in turn triggers an interaction with the structure to
induce another level of structural embodiment. For instance,
Kerez’s Leutschenbach School (Fig.4) deliberately conveys
a discontinuity in the force flow by offsetting the structure,
evoking a sense of lightness and floating [71]. This approach
is consistent with the neuroaesthetic of arousal, in which the
appropriate stimulus arouses our curiosity in order to per-
fectly reorganise or rationalise the missing parts of the struc-
tural expression from bodily experience, thereby complet-
ing a conceptually similar reorganisation of a “dismembered
body.” As Olgiati interprets the structural reflection of the
Plantahof Auditorium (Fig.5): “the Plantahof Auditorium
has an outer shape that does not allow one to understand
the entire building organism…Only when we see the entire
building, do we begin to recreate it in our mind and under-
stand why it has supports, why they have the dimensions
they do, and why they are positioned as they are… I am
convinced that if people are confronted with something that
resembles nothing and something that they cannot yet han-
dle, they begin to fathom this and ultimately experience it
positively… [72, p. 64]” Olgiati asserts that it has the poten-
tial to “stimulate thought,” allowing for both physical and
mental involvement. Additionally, as the degree of arousal
emphasises, the representation of specific overcomplicated
structures can make it challenging to develop an empathic
relationship with the body and thus evoke an embodied
aesthetic experience, a situation frequently criticised as a
form of “structural expressionism.” In summary, we value
these structures because they are connected to our bodies
and movements and elicit emotion. Whether deliberately
or unintentionally, these structures are designed with our
perception in mind and convey our own bodily experience
through them, inspiring our artistic interpretation of them.
Towards anew structural art
By combining the aforementioned embodied perspective
with the various parameters and principles of aesthetic expe-
rience, we can attribute the origins of structural art to three
distinct embodied perception directions:
1. The sense of force. This dimension is concerned with
the bodily implications of structural forces, allowing us
to mirror the correspondence between the structure’s
Fig. 4 Leutschenbach School, Zurich, 2009. Photo: Micha L. Rieser
Fig. 5 Plantahof Auditorium, Landquart, 2010. Photo: Ruizhe Liang
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
force flow and bodily experience. For instance, in Ner-
vi’s design for the Municipal Stadio Artemio Franchi
(Fig.6). Exaggerated cantilevering on the roof directly
evokes a bodily sensation similar to straightening our
arms, mirroring perceived bodily memory and emotion
from the structures. This reinforces the roof structure’s
lightness.
2. The sense of affordance. This dimension is concerned
with the possibilities for bodily interaction with us
provided by structural elements or their relationships
(affordance). An example is the Rolex Learning Centre
(Fig.7), designed by SANAA. The structure’s undulat-
ing surfaces and column placement affect the movement
possibilities. Or the Final Wooden House design by Sou
Fujimoto (Fig.8), in which the varying sizes of the wood
logs hold the structure together and provide different
opportunities for interaction with the structure, stimulat-
ing a rich bodily memory and emotion.
3. The sense of process. This can be accomplished by
implying the process of assembling the structure or the
transformation about to occur in the structure’s relation-
ship, or by conveying through texture the bodily move-
ments of carving and moving during the structure’s
production, thus allowing the static structure to corre-
spond to our dynamic bodily experience. For instance,
Philippe Block’s Armadillo Vault (Fig.9) is composed
of 399 individually cut limestone pieces. To emphasise
the removal of excess material, he chose to hammer it
away, leaving a very rough cutting surface. The piece’s
observation not only reveals the relationship between the
individual blocks, but also elicits the act and process of
striking, reinforcing and expanding the static structure’s
interaction with the body in the time dimension.
Fig. 6 Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, 1931. Source: 2020 PLN_
Project, online at: https:// salvi amoil franc hi. com/ artem io- franc hi- stadi
um
Fig. 7 Rolex Learning Centre, Lausanne, 2010. Source: from the
authors
Fig. 8 Final Wooden House, Kumamoto, 2006. Photo: Iwan Baan.
Source: https:// www. archd aily. com/ 7638/ final- wooden- house- sou-
fujim oto
Fig. 9 Armadillo Vault, Venice, 2016. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
The structure’s embodied expression may also vary in
response to various architectural intentions. For instance, a
hospital’s structure may minimise perceptual stimuli while
considering and providing more appropriate affordance,
whereas a church’s sacred space may be quite the opposite.
Understanding these principles of influence, on the other
hand, can help us define the direction and purpose of struc-
tural design innovation. Additionally, it is worth emphasis-
ing that the three directions mentioned above do not exist in
isolation but rather occur and influence perceptions simul-
taneously, in an interconnected state. Therefore, one should
not focus exclusively on one of them at the expense of con-
sidering the structure as a whole.
Similarly, how architects and structural designers realise
this embodied structural art varies significantly. However,
when viewed through the lens of the body, certain struc-
tural expressions reveal their design intentions. As previ-
ously stated, the enactive and arousal processes that stimu-
late embodied interaction should be kept atan appropriate
level. Thus, the relationship between structural authenticity
and expressiveness should not be one of mutual invisibility
between flesh and bone, but rather one of interdependent,
resulting in the creation of a perceptual expression of art-
istry founded on structural rationality. This contextualises
the previously mentioned “moderate” relationship between
the “technical truth” and the “artistic truth” of structure. In a
similar vein, Colin Rowe has referred to the long horizontal
windows that run the length of the façade in Corbusier’s
Villa Stein de-Monzie(Fig.10) as “Transparency,” indicat-
ing the location of the floor behind and the necessity for
structure [73]. Due to our experience with the body’s con-
tinuity, we know that the structure between the two long
windows cannot “float” in the air and must be supported by
something else. The building’s interior reveals a structure
and spatial layout diametrically opposed to the open space
implied by the façade, reinforcing the spatial tension and
desire for infinite interpretation [73]. This ambiguous state
between exposure and concealment also appears to be con-
sistent with neuroscientific research on enactive: appropriate
implication forthe embodied nature of the structure. Another
example isthe columns designed byArtigason either side
of the University of São Paulo’s (FAU) School of Architec-
ture and Urbanism (Fig.11), whichexemplifytheambigu-
ous structural expression. When observed from the front or
side, this particular structural expression reveals that only a
triangular structure supports a sizeable structural body via
a point of the contact area. One can easily convey a sense
of instability through physical experience, which generates
tension. It is only through moving through the building’s
various perspectives that we can comprehend the logic of
its load-bearing and thus dissipate this tension. Therefore,
this structural expressionembodies the oppression of the
Brazilian people and his fantasy of a utopia: a state that
is both real and unreal [74]. Due to the holistic nature of
its systems’ interpenetration, this structure’s ambiguous
expression elicits a range of perceptions and interpretations
of space and concepts, i.e. multiple affordances, reinforc-
ing the perceptual richness of space in terms of meaning. It
has the potential to inspire individuals to reveal their hid-
den superimposed spatial considerations and architectural
intentions gradually through a variety of distances, scales,
perspectives, movements, and even listening and touching.
And it is precisely this openness of these structures and their
stimulation of interaction that contributes significantly to the
neuroaesthetic experience of beauty.
Notably, this contrasts the perspective in which the struc-
ture is concealed behind the architectural form and is only
used to support it. These examples and approaches to struc-
tural art demonstrate how design has shifted from passive
Fig. 10 Villa Stein-de-Monzie, Garches, 1926. Photo: Cemal Emden.
Source: https:// divis are. com/ proje cts/ 199431- Le- Corbu sier- Villa-
Stein
Fig. 11 University of São Paulo’s (FAU) School of Architecture and
Urbanism, São Paulo, 1969. Photo: Nelson Kon. Source: http:// www.
nelso nkon. com. br/ facul dade- de- arqui tetura- e- urban ismo- usp/
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
to proactive. Similar to how embodied perception describes
how people’s perception of the external world is fundamen-
tally an enactive act, structures that interact with people
must actively shape the qualities associated with the per-
ceptions through stimulation or guidance of their interaction
with space and structure. For instance, Picon used to define
Eduardo Torroja’s structure concept as an active stimulation
of structural forms for the perception of static equilibrium
in the human body [75, pp. 5–19]. Recent advances in digi-
tal technology enable even more active and precise control
over structural design and construction efficiency, allowing
structures to engage in apre-reflective dialogue with grav-
ity, which is crucial for the future of structural art. Nowa-
days, virtual reality and agent-based modelling (ABM) can
already simulate certain aspects of human perception and
interaction, laying a solid technical foundation for structural
art at the perception level.
However, this paper has discussed only one aspect of
aesthetic experience, namely those that are likely to occur
before formulating any explicit aesthetic judgement.7 This
is not meant to make all beauty judgments based on the
body. Instead, it is meant to use the body to communicate in
structural design on a more general basis. Other more com-
plex and peculiar aspects of aesthetic experience are strongly
influenced by personal preferences, background, memories,
education, and expertise. They are a more conscious mode
of perception that is far from universal and is thus excluded
from this paper.
Conclusion
The focus on structural art will significantly impact archi-
tecture and structural design. By embracing and applying
the history and concepts of structural art within the struc-
tural profession, the potential and quality of future structural
design will significantly increase. Additionally, the concept
of structural art would provide architects with a more con-
crete understanding of the material and engineering con-
cerns. Our understanding of art is also becoming more pre-
cise, particularly in light of recent advances in cognitive
neuroscience. The importance of incorporating neuroaes-
thetics and related perceptual theories into the structural
design is that it results in a “bio-cultural” paradigm shift
[76]. They can shed light on the nature and rules of the art of
structure perception and provide a new lens through which
to re-examine the question of structural expression, guiding
our construction of structures and spaces more rigorously
and scientifically. By focusing on the human being as a
more fundamental perspective, the neuroaesthetic perspec-
tive can liberate structural design from the complexities of
artwork, allowing the body to serve as a more precise anchor
point between the tangible and abstract aspects of structure,
thereby providing a theoretical and even quantitative founda-
tion for the integration of the human perceptual dimension
into structural design.
This neuroaesthetic perspective is not an entirely new
concept but rather a clarification and expansion of previ-
ously held beliefs on structural art. It is not a refutation of
the vintage structure’s quest for efficiency, economy, and
elegance, but rather an expansion of these concerns beyond
a purely engineering definition to a broader human dimen-
sion—a rethinking of what it means to be efficient, economi-
cal, and elegant from the perspective of the user. Such a
body-based quest for a balance of technology and art can
provide a new perspectiveand platform for collaboration
between architects and structural designers, allowing for
more scientific and precise decision-making with design
intent while retaining the ambiguity of structural expression.
As Billington and many other pioneers in the pursuit of
structural art have argued, the advancement of structural
art requires architects and structural engineers’ combined
efforts and collaboration. Today’s increasingly complex
architectural demands and technical challenges are difficult
to meet through the heroic efforts of a single individual.
The intersection of neuroscience and architecture also pro-
vides an example that interdisciplinary is not limited to
engineering. Collaboration with experts in neuroscience or
other fields frequently results in the generation of novel and
ground-breaking ideas.
However, without new education and talent development
models, expanding the focus on structural art proposed in
this paper will be difficult to implement in practice. As
Alan Holgate argues in his book Aesthetics of built form,
advancing the technical and artistic integration of struc-
tures may necessitate the emergence of new professions
equipped with aesthetic sensibility, technical understand-
ing, and construction management abilities [20, p. 252].
The currentdigital environment provides a new platform
for interacting with these intricate architectural challenges.
The subsequent adoption of CNC construction machines in
architecture and the emergence of the concept of Digital
Tectonics are attempting to reclaim architecture’s materiality
and structural considerations, thus retracing the relationship
between body and space. However, the experiential relation-
ship between these complex forms, which are literally con-
structed and adhere to a structural logic, still remains an
open question in relation to the viewer.
While the structural design is a complex consequence
of multiple determinants and consequences, this embodied
7 For some studies of art perception at other perspectives of neu-
roaesthetics see: Chatterjee, A., Coburn, A. & Weinberger, A. The
neuroaesthetics of architectural spaces. Cogn Process 22, 115–120
(2021).
Architecture, Structures and Construction
1 3
perception-based perspective on structural art is not intended
to concentrate solely on perception. Instead, it is intended
to emphasise that, in addition to the technical aspects of
structural thinking, structural design from an artistic and
perceptual perspective can have a beneficial effect on the
spatial definition and expression of structures. Rather than
serving as a constraining design criterion, the intention is
to foster a new way of thinking—to abandon the compli-
cated and abstract meanings associated with regional and
sectarian architectural theories and return to the essence of
architecture: the structure; and the subject of experience:
the body, through the direct design of its form, composi-
tion, and materials. The objective is to reach thearchitectural
and structural thinking sought by Herzog and de Meuron,
one that transcends consciousness, culture, and context and
arrives directly at perception [77].
Acknowledgements This study was funded by the China Scholarship
Council Grant No. 202008170012.
Funding Open access funding provided by Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology Zurich
Declarations
Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no known com-
peting financial interests or personal relationships that could have ap-
peared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta-
tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long
as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes
were made. The images or other third party material in this article are
included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in
the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will
need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a
copy of this licence, visit http:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/.
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... Finally, the workflow of The Canopy shows that the pursuit of structural art is not about letting the structure's sound overshadow the building itself [34]. We can instead find an interdependent and solid balance between the two by utilizing the proper design medium and process [35,36]. Obviously, achieving this equilibrium requires multiple iterations of the design process instead of allowing the structure to realize the building's form in a "post-rationalization" manner. ...
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Gallese evaluates neurocognitive and brain-imaging studies that investigate the role of mirror neuron systems and embodied simulation in aesthetic experience, and examines similarities and differences to the concept of “Einfühlung” from aesthetic theory around 1900. He argues that embodied simulation can be relevant to aesthetic experience in at least two ways: First, embodied simulation generates the seeing as that plays a special role in our aesthetic experience. Second, because of the bodily memories and imaginative associations that works of art provoke in the beholder’s mind. He concludes that experimental aesthetics can revitalize the scientific study of artistic styles, focusing on their biological bodily roots, and, by acknowledging the complex entanglement of our body with the world, can foster a “bio-cultural” turning point within the human sciences.
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This classic book, first published in 1991, was one of the first to propose the “embodied cognition” approach in cognitive science. It pioneered the connections between phenomenology and science and between Buddhist practices and science-claims that have since become highly influential. Through this cross-fertilization of disparate fields of study, The Embodied Mind introduced a new form of cognitive science called “enaction," in which both the environment and first person experience are aspects of embodiment. However, enactive embodiment is not the grasping of an independent, outside world by a brain, a mind, or a self; rather it is the bringing forth of an interdependent world in and through embodied action. Although enacted cognition lacks an absolute foundation, the book shows how that does not lead to either experiential or philosophical nihilism. Above all, the book’s arguments were powered by the conviction that the sciences of mind must encompass lived human experience and the possibilities for transformation inherent in human experience. This revised edition includes substantive introductions by Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch that clarify central arguments of the work and discuss and evaluate subsequent research that has expanded on the themes of the book, including the renewed theoretical and practical interest in Buddhism and mindfulness. A preface by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, contextualizes the book and describes its influence on his life and work. © 1991, 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
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A burgeoning interest in the intersection of neuroscience and architecture promises to offer biologically inspired insights into the design of spaces. The goal of such interdisciplinary approaches to architecture is to motivate construction of environments that would contribute to peoples' flourishing in behavior, health, and well-being. We suggest that this nascent field of neuroarchitecture is at a pivotal point in which neuroscience and architecture is poised to extend to a neuroscience of architecture. In such a research program, architectural experiences themselves are the target of neuroscientific inquiry. Here, we draw lessons from recent developments in neuroaesthetics to suggest how neuroarchitecture might mature into an experimental science. We review the extant literature and offer an initial framework from which to contextualize such research. Finally, we outline theoretical and technical challenges that lie ahead.