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Memory in Architecture | towards a universal language of sacred space

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Kirsty Hetherington
University of Queensland Brisbane Australia
The most likely origins of architecture are found in the creation of space to satisfy primitive human needs, a source of shelter, comfort, security and enclosure in a transient, harsh and unpredictable world. Although most architecture seeks to fulfil these simple requirements, it is found that sacred architecture provides evidence of architectural intention beyond these, through its contribution to collective, community and the individual. Sacred space seeks to connect with responses beyond physical need and to convince of something that is essentially intangible and immaterial in a tangible and material form.

This investigation sought to answer a number of questions relating to this central theme, which triggered exploration into the extent of the power of architectural qualities on human experience. Is it possible to create a universal and timeless sacred space for the future? To establish universal, it was important that cross-cultural analysis be undertaken to identify the roots of spatial experience. It was also determined that timeless space must continue to provoke emotive responses into the future, therefore it was necessary to investigate the foundations of human response to space.

What are the principles and qualities that underpin a universal and timeless sacred space? This definitive question was responded to through a variety of investigative analyses including literary (relating to human response to space and memory) and case studies, of both eastern and western sacred space.

This study sought to identify the ways in which distinctive types of memory inform the way space is conceived and designed. It attempted to demonstrate how principles of architectural form are manipulated to establish attributes and character of space. Memory is the filter through
which humans experience different architectural spaces and has been used by architects to imagine and design space throughout history. Sacred space was considered an effective focal formwork to assist in the illustration of the affects of memory and imagination on spatial
experience. The exploration ultimately sought to exemplify the way in which the manipulation of form through fundamental architectural elements and attributes of space can be used to create a universally sacred space.

Kirsty Hetherington

Ms Elizabeth Musgrave
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