Onzichtbaar Amsterdam
: een ruimtelijk lezen van karakters en steen

  • M.L.P. Proosten

Student thesis: Master


This collection of printed characters titled 'lnvisible Amsterdam' is the final result of my master thesis. My work is part of a master's atelier called 'Oe rede van Amsterdam' given at the Technica I University of Eindhoven. A group-based research towards the relationship between the city of Amsterdam and its water, lettoa further study of the tactile qualities of the city's urban environment. Th is study is interwoven with literature in generaland the workof ltalo Calvino in particular. My aim is to conneet both urban and architectural experience tothespace of literature. Our urban experience of a city like Amsterdam is often influenced by the images that reach us either befarehand or directly in the urban environment. Tourist guides, commercial signs and nowadays the direct access to virtual reality, influence our experiences. The canal zone of Amsterdam houses an extremely rich urban environment where ditterenee in height, scale, proportions between water, quays and buildings influence physical aspects like wind and sound. Aspects which enrich our urban experience and the quality we address u pon this part of Amsterdam. August Berque, ltalo Calvino, Kevin lynch and Christian Norberg-Schulz all emphasize that the urban environment depends on the relationship between the direct physical reality and our mental image. To research the urban environmentweneed tolook at both. The physical reality of three locations is made readable through drawings of plan and section. The mental image we form of these locations can not be drawn easily, certainly not because it depends on subjective experience which is influenced by social, cultural and economie developments. To put a lens on social and cultural developments I introduce the character the blind. Will this character, which is free from visual influences, be a bie to give us a better understanding of the tactile qualities of the urban environment? According to Set ka löw and Christian NorbergSchulz a better awareness of the way we experience space can create a better understanding of geographical spaces. The ditterenee in height of the terrain, weather conditions and acoustics might be strongly influenced by changing conditions, their relationship with physical context as wellas the mental experience can be measured. Analyzing the three locations together with Rudjer Glavurtic, a blind musician from Utrecht, servedas tooi to characterize the city in the direction of a multi-sensorial experience. lt became the foundation for an architectonic intervention that enhanced the tactile qualities of the city, yet it did not conceptualize it. Through the u se of language, both Rudjer and I where a bie to express our experiences of the urban environment. language connects the physical reality with the mentalspace of imagination and memory. A conneetion which relays on the urban experience as wellas the architectonic experience .. literature which gets to us through the u se of language, with its cognitive and i mag i native possibilities can act as a starting point for architectonic experience. The workof ltalo Calvino and his book 'Under the Jaguarsun'~ acts as an analytic and conceptual tooi. The printed characters together with drawings of the locations are the physicallayer which I enhanced with concepts derived out of my own interpretation and imagination coming from Calivino's use of language. These concepts together with the analyses of the tactile qualities are used as the starting point for the architectural translation. The ma in topic of the story 'Under the Jaguarsun' is the touristic experience, an experience which by eating and digesting local food becomes a multi-sensorial deepening into a nother culture. The topic from this short story becomes the conceptual framework for the translation of qualities between city and water. The architectonic framework of the follie acts as the physical reality that connects the water, the movement of traffic, light and air with the structure, its edit and u sage of the basic materia Is wood, brick, steel and concrete. The design does not contain any form of function, it focuses itself on architectonic experience; an experience which is multisensaria I and connects the physical reality with the mental world of memory and imagination. Although my workis based on a theoretica( framework that acts as the justification for my architecture, it is not a unilateral architectural theory. I only try to express my interpretation and ideas a bout the city, architecture and theory. The city is a complex mechanism which changes under the influences of social, cultural and economie developments. Yet our idea a bout the city is notmade up out of merely physical realities but a lso contains a mental relationship. A relationship which can be enriched by focusing on the tactile qualities of the urban environment, as well as its architecture. When we want to influence the meaning of this relationship, architecture demands a precise and accurate physical structure. A structure that takes us from vagueness to the poetic precision of architectural experience.
Date of Award31 Jan 2011
Original languageDutch
SupervisorBernard J.F. Colenbrander (Supervisor 1), Christian Rapp (Supervisor 2) & Pieter J.V. van Wesemael (Supervisor 2)

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