‘Monkey Brains, Creativity, and the Experience of Architecture’ lecture Monday, April 3

Mar 31, 2023 | General News, Liberal Arts

Manhattan, Kansas-based architect and designer Bob Condia, the 2017-20 Regnier Chair of Architecture at Kansas State, presents ‘Monkey Brains, Creativity, and the Experience of Architecture’ Monday, April 3, 5 p.m. in the Taylor Visual Arts Center 103 on the Louisiana Tech campus.

Tech’s School of Design in the University’s College of Liberal Arts is the lecture’s presenter.

Condia teaches architecture as an art form with due considerations to “neuroscience and architecture; real circumstances; the ancient megaliths of man; a building’s terrestrial and celestial alignments; and, the sensible poetics of an architectural enterprise,” things he will expound on and explain during Monday’s lecture.

He has been a studio critic for 38 years in architecture and interior design.

“My concern as an architect,” Condia said, “and as a college professor, is ‘How does architecture do what it does?’ Subsequently by asking ‘How can such be taught to interested students?’ In simplest terms I assert that architecture is an active, creative engagement of the whole being, where the mind recognizes or auditions the world of forms as opportunities for action. Architecture is a verb, as designers see it.

“Architecture presents itself as potentials for action through its furnishing, surfaces, atmospheres summarily read through individual experience, cultural norms, and so on. Biologically speaking, I argue human attentiveness and kinesthetic engagement with the built environment is like our animalia brethren, a niche construction.

“One recent discovery of our bodily sense of space is seen in the brains of monkeys as mirror systems,” he said. “Mirror mechanisms disclose the biology of the architects’ empathy connecting us to each other and the world of things explaining our social nature and abilities to read body language (for instance).  Related, reading forms as their own language, the term affordance, from the work of psychologist James Gibson, is gaining currency as a way to intertwine the biology with the experience of built environments. My question can be reframed as, ‘How do we experience architecture?’ In many ways, but particular to us, as an architect’s desire to recreate experiences for others, rehearsed through design with one’s own body.  Design, as the auditioning of space, is the best strategy to return architecture to its biological basis, for an architectural method expressed through the role that affordances, atmosphere, and stimulated behaviors play in the design and sensory understanding of spaces. I suggest contemporary models of perception and methods of philosophy will improve our expertise for practice in architecture and urban design. Architecture is a full body contact sport, and expertise in human perception the architect’s next big idea.”