How Do We Experience Architecture?

June 3, 2020



How do we experience architecture? Is it all about art and aesthetics? Is it purely about functionality?


There are many ways to experience architecture. If you sit in a pew at St. Josephs Catholic Church on 24th and Adams here in Ogden, you can take in all the intricate carved details and painted murals. You may or may not know the specific spiritual or biblical references, but you can still feel a sense of reverence and peace that was the meditative goal for a house of worship.


Or perhaps a modern-mecca athletic stadium is the kind of place you can wrap your head around. How can you appreciate the details that went into design, perhaps a reflection of the strength of athleticism combined with a community feeling? Or maybe its locally sourced materials used to reflect the natural environment. All these details were likely a focus of the architect’s solution.


In her book "Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery", Jeanette Winterson asks how we can know the difference between art to be admired and art to be ignored. “Years ago, when I was living very briefly with a stockbroker who had a good cellar,” she says, “I asked him how I could learn about wine.


’Drink it,’ he said.”


So how do we get better at “drinking in” and experiencing architecture? We can read about it, go to lectures, ask questions. These are all powerful methods of gaining a better understanding of our built environment. But perhaps the best way is to just look, and look again, and then look some more. [1] Study the details, both functional and non-functional. In historic buildings, consider its materials and purpose at the time of construction, and what the neighborhood might have looked like in that time. In newer buildings, consider how design has changed in the contemporary world and if you like the direction it is going. Pay attention to what catches your eye about a building and ask yourself if you believe that was what the architect had hoped to achieve. Reflect on why some buildings/houses are appealing to you and some are not.  


In the spirit of getting out and looking, Carbon Architects is starting the Instagram contest of “Guess the Skyline”. We will be posting an image of an Ogden building every other month. Your job is to figure out which building the skyline is outlining. All correct answers will be put in a hat for a drawing. The winner will get one of these great Carbon Architects mugs.


So, keep looking at the buildings around you. Drink in the architecture.


Guess the Skyline Building 1


[1] Why Architecture Matters; Paul Goldberger 2009


Join the contest! Follow us on Instagram!


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2444 Washington Blvd. Ste 203, Ogden, UT, United States 84401

(385) 244-1140