Principles of Somatic Movement Education for Architectural Design
An architect trying to predict the spatial effect of their design on its inhabitants often faces a dilemma. Their professional experience and personal feeling allows them to intuit its effect. Such intuition, however, might lack legitimacy in the dominant design practice. For over a century, the question of the felt space in architecture has been a topic of theoretical discussion, which led to the insight that the answer might lay not so much in studying the architectural structures, but rather in studying the bodies that inhabit them. And still the dominant architectural practice follows the outdated dualistic (mis-)understanding of the felt space. Another historical development took place in dance. Here, since the 1960s,the traditionally formalistic and objectifying understanding of dance has been strongly influenced by techniques of bodily sensitization, stemming from the field of somatics. In themselves rather diverse, these techniques have been institutionally delineated through the principles of somatic movement education. One of their characteristics is that somatic techniques are constantly re-emerging - not from a priori knowledge but from the study of one's own body and its interactions with the environment. This article envisages how such principles might be applied to architectural design practice and give rise to new embodied design practices - which might foster architects' sensory expertise and thus legitimize the felt knowledge in professional contexts.