Haptic Plans and Optic Houses,
Architecture of Hugo Häring and Robert Venturi

(2013) Master Thesis, Sandberg Institute Amsterdam

Seven chapters describe and compare single architectural elements of the houses of Hugo Häring and Robert Venturi. While dissecting their architecture; which both seem to incorporate sculptural and autonomous elements, two ways of seeing are being distinguished. 'One way of seeing exists of pure vision with the eye and body in rest, receiving a single sharp and unified planar impression of a form, a 'distend image'. The other is an opposite, kinetic vision, with the body and eyes moving, approaching, circling, or entering the object surveyed, and gaining a three-dimensional impression.' [1] This perception theory introduced by the artist and writer Adolf Hildebrand, later adopted by the art historian Alois Riegl, is used as an analytical tool by which a separation is made between the 'optic' and the 'haptic’. [2] Looking through these lenses at Venturi's and Häring's architecture one can start to understand Venturi's use of the optic perception and Häring's use of the haptic experience. Throughout this perspective it becomes clear that the autonomous elements within their architecture are actually fulfilling a vital and often functional role.

[1] Caiger-Smith, Martin. Site Work: Architecture in Photography Since Early Modernism. London: The Photographers' Gallery, 1999 p.7
[2] Riegl, Alois. Late Roman Art Industry. Translation Rolf Winkes. Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider Editore, 1985

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