Architecture as Experience

The Fusion of the World and the Self


  • Juhani Pallasmaa Aalto University (professor emeritus)


experience, existential sense, relational phenomena


The complex phenomenon of architecture consists of too many irreconcilable and conflicting categories of thought, intention, emotion, interaction and action to be condensed into the framework of a single theory of architecture. Besides, art and architecture are constituted in their mental encounter and experience instead of the material works themselves. Works of architecture and art are encountered and lived rather than understood intellectually.

Architecture is commonly understood, taught, practiced and evaluated primarily as a visual art form. However, we encounter buildings and environments through our entire sense of being. Perceptions interact with memory and imagination to constitute an experience with meaning and temporal duration. Art and architecture are essentially relational phenomena as they express our being in the world instead of themselves or their authors. The interest in architecture as experience also directs our attention to such diffuse and neglected experiences as atmospheres, ambiences, feelings, moods and attunements.




How to Cite

Pallasmaa, J. (2018). Architecture as Experience: The Fusion of the World and the Self. Architectural Research in Finland, 2(1), 9–17. Retrieved from