Reading 20 – Colomina

While architecture is seemingly forever tied to the human body, through scale and occupancy more than anything, its relation to the medical body is less defined and certainly more open to change. Colomina’s The Medical Body in Modern Architecture certainly provides a sufficient number of examples, from sanatoriums to recreation, environmental quality to material quality, yet I am unconvinced that this relationship is being considered amongst the most appropriate discourse. I feel as though the author neglected a serious quality when analyzing affects of architecture on the medical body, and that is the quality of pleasure and aesthetics, enjoyment and beauty. Surely all of the effective examples discussed possessed some level of aesthetic expression, not just fading into banality. After all, a volume may possess the qualities Colomina discusses such as natural daylight, or fresh air supply, and remain boring, uninviting, and generally unimpressive. It is when these qualities are designed alongside a successive architecture that they gain the ability to positively affect the medical body. Colomina’s turn about of hygiene in buildings at her conclusion, however, is fair and aptly critical of contemporary architecture. It is, as the author noted from the 19th century, similiar to “overstuffing,” where we have caused our buildings to become so superfluous and laden with secondary systems, the diagnosis becomes extremely complicated. Can we return to a simplicity in architecture through the use of technological materials and an increased understanding of the human condition? It may allow us to further address a desire for new typologies, and consider new ways for humans to inhabit dwellings.


About jasonsedar

My final year of architecture school at the University of Calgary!
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