Philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists have long been interested in how we can overcome the inherently subjective nature of human existence to share experiences with others. A range of different ways of transcending the limits of the individual human body have been proposed, from empathy to sexual relationships. Using examples drawn from traditional Japanese architecture, this article argues that, as a form of cohabitable surrogate body, buildings can also be a means of achieving this goal. To this end, it demonstrates how the tectonic practices of enclosing space, establishing artificial ground planes, and screening inside from out can effectively disperse three fundamental existential experiences usually defined by and limited to the individual human body: here, this, and now.
Discussions about our contemporary built environment tend to look at themed and virtual spaces as something irrelevant at best or, worse, as something disdainful. Yet entertainment, as a visual and experiential thrust, has consumed the built environment to the point that theming has taken an elevated role that has heightened our expectations for spaces. These spaces have always conveyed narrative; there have always been themes. Thematic design, however, is a form of visual storytelling executed primarily in consumer spaces that is at once popular, profitable, prolific, and above all, problematic. We explore how key developments in the evolution of early cinema and animation push beyond the screen to influence the built environment and examine a similar path within the virtual worlds of digital gaming. We outline the origins of contemporary themed spaces, both physical and virtual, to pinpoint the influences that promulgate a predominately story-based vision of space. To that end we speculate on the increasing bleed between physical and virtual worlds in which architecture is no longer a primary consideration in placemaking.
This article examines the ecological and spatial consequences of large-scale retail centers in the Midwest, specifically Columbus, Ohio, affected by the phenomena of changing urban trends and consumer behavior. The landscape of retail industry is changing as we know it. Consumer behavior has shifted to online and experiential shopping, leaving retail’s big box asphalt landscapes as obsolete spaces in the urban fabric of many cities, most notably those in the Midwest. While the ecological and social impact of these spaces have been known for over ten years, very little advancement, change, and adaptation can be seen in the way cities plan for growth and regeneration; the car remains a driving force behind design of all urban forms. Using the Paris Agreement on climate change as a guide for urban transformation, this research seeks to develop strategies for forestation practices for regional and community retail centers, which will enrich environmental values, create social identity, and, in turn, increase the economic value of surrounding communities.