ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Designer’s Philosopher

Contemporary designers and architects would do well to revisit Gaston Bachelard’s work to imbue the spaces they create with meaning.

A house is not just an economic dream, but also a space where we grow roots. It is the site where our lives unfold, as also the place where we construct ourselves. Through the door, we enter a world that is unique and complete in its affected reality. This sway that a relatively small space under the sun holds over the minds of its inhabitants is at once confounding and nurturing. While the science of creating a house may simply involve optimal use of space and creative application of technology, the art lies in promising an experience that resonates with the poetry of living. This idea has held sway for centuries, but there wasn’t quite enough engagement with how science and art come together to form the essence of a house. French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962), in his magnum opus, The Poetics of Space (1957), responded to this challenge and studied the house as an intimate space and proposed that it was a site at which the edifice of human imagination is erected.

If the dualities of scientific spirit and vivid imagination came together in one personality at its vigorous best, it was in Bachelard. In his early life, he broke new grounds in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and held a chair in the philosophy of science at the Sorbonne in Paris. His work titled The Experience of Space in Contemporary Physics (1937) was a philosophical critique of the methods by which scientific knowledge is acquired. He introduced the idea of science progressing through a series of epistemological discontinuities or breaks: as an older world view and an existing base of knowledge exhausts its fertility to nurture further theoretical development, it becomes a hurdle and prevents further progress; to move beyond the stalemate, a dramatic turn or kink is needed. Bachelard termed this as an “epistemological break.”

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Updated On : 1st Dec, 2019
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