This very strange word is used in chemistry and architecture with very different meanings!  The following is from an architectural perspective and has other strange words, like ocularcentrism, deliberately put here to get google hits!  It feels a bit postmodern, but stay with it!


Hapticity And Time

Architectural Review, TheMay, 2000 by Juhani Pallasmaa

notes on fragile architecture

Materials and surfaces have a richly complex language of their own that evolves and changes over time. In this major essay, Juhani Pallasmaa puts the case for haptic, sensuous architecture.

Modern consciousness and sensory reality have gradually developed towards the unrivalled dominance of the sense of vision. This thought-provoking development has been observed and analyzed by a number of philosophers in recent years.

[1] David Michael Levin, one of today’s thinkers concerned with the hegemony of vision, motivates the philosophical critique of the visual bias in the following words: ‘I think it is appropriate to challenge the hegemony of vision in the ocularcentrism of our culture.

And I think we need to examine very critically the character of vision that predominates today in our world. We urgently need a diagnosis of the psychosocial pathology of everyday seeing — and a critical understanding of ourselves, as visionary beings’. [2]

I believe likewise that many aspects of the pathology of today’s architecture can also be understood through a critique of the ocular bias of our culture. As a consequence of the power of the eye over the other sensory realms, architecture has turned into an art form of instant visual image. Instead of creating existential microcosms, embodied representations of the world, architecture projects retinal images for the purpose of immediate persuasion.
Flatness of surfaces and materials, uniformity of illumination, as well as the elimination of micro-climatic differences, further reinforce the tiresome and soporific uniformity of experience.

All in all, the tendency of technological culture to standardize environmental conditions and make the environment entirely predictable is causing a serious sensory impoverishment.

Our buildings have lost their opacity and depth, sensory invitation and discovery, mystery and shadow.

Multi-sensory experience: the significance of touch

Every significant experience of architecture is multi-sensory; qualities of matter, space and scale are measured by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty emphasizes this simultaneity of experience and sensory interaction as follows:

‘My perception is [therefore] not a sum of visual, tactile, and audible givens: I perceive in a total way with my whole being: I grasp a unique structure of the thing, a unique way of being, which speaks to all my senses at once’.”….

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