Towards a Phenomenological Design explores the importance of psychology and phenomenon in design. Phenomenology is defined as the study of the structures of human experience. These studies frame an architectural awareness or ‘consciousness’. Phenomenology within architecture highlights the ways in which heightened sensory encounters create memorable experiences. Within architecture, what defines a memorable experience? How do built environments persuade users to behave and act in certain ways? Memorable experiences are created through mood changing light and shadow, the movements of the physical eye, tactility of materials, sonic spatial definitions, pleasant or foul smells, taste of sweet to bitter.
‘Light’ is architecture’s first material, and it is the medium that reveals space, form, texture and color. Sight is the sense without which architecture, objects, events, time, self and space are experienced differently. Within the Light Museum situated at the southern end of Northerly Island in Chicago, explorations of light and lighting effects carefully choreograph experiences of space to create visual phenomenological impacts. The observation of lived experiences exposes visitors to interpretations of light and its varied interactions with the space located between sky, city and inland sea. Light reflected, refracted, absorbed or transmitted is perceived and experienced differently by various visitors. The surface interacting with light creates echo, the memory of sounds in the past and the anticipation, or dread, of sounds in the future. Time is registered as much by the hand and nose as by the eye. Visitors’ perceptions are bound into time and memory along with space and form, which connect them intimately and profoundly to their surroundings. The Light Museum will begin a new dialogue between architecture design, time, light and experience.