A Picture Cannot Tell the Whole Story

No matter how well captured, there is a fundamental architectural characteristic that photography cannot fully capture, an aspect that words cannot fully describe. Something that can only be experienced in person.

The quality I am alluding to is spatial experience.

The adept composition of a series of spatial sequences within an architectural composition, as one processes through a building is a particular skill, much admired but curiously under celebrated. It is a characteristic that is difficult to interpret, virtual reality and scale models all help. To the expert eye architectural drawings can offer a reasonable description. Diagrams are also a useful method of exploring spatial attributes.

These qualities are evident in all works of architectural worth, regardless of what the individual spaces themselves might look like.

Those who have visited the great works of modern architecture will have first hand experience of this. Adolf Loos’s Villa Muller or Le Corbusier’s Le Tourette Monastery are two personal favourites examples that come to mind.

A related skill is teasing out the more successful spatial qualities of an existing building.

If you have a good architect, trust their vision, they will have a sense of what will feel good and work well as one procedes through a building. Above all, enjoy the design journey.