Since architecture is a distinctly human phenomenon, the objectification of space is always of a space that is orientated and relational because it is always experienced from a particular point of view: our bodies. Space is, therefore, never an abstract concept or a vacuum, nor even an absolute reality, it is always conditional and relative, and movement is seen as the change not simply or merely of physical location, but of one’s point of view or the frame of refernence. Hence, this space is one in which our bodily movements are both exhibited and contextualized within the realm of other bodies and their movements or relative positions with a spatial field.
Within the realm of human activity and experience, there exists an isomorphism between these natural movements of the body (or bodies) and the transcendent movements of the soul(s). Man exists in and experiences this tension, feels the pull between earth and the sky, of which the threshold and the horizon are points of entry/departure and orientation as we move laterally/horizontally through these vertical axes. We can, in a very easy but real and primordial way, both understand and experience this isomorphism from the simple fact that we naturally associate spatial realities and terminologies with non-empirical realities: verticality with transcendence, summits and peaks with the closeness to the divine, and being “elevated” and “lifted up” with the encounter with the beautiful. Thus the objectification of space, as human and inhabited space, necessarily also exhibits and reinforces the cruciform tension of our earthly existence between the horizontal and the vertical, or rather the immanent and the transcendent.
Because the space is distinctly human space, it is patterned, meaning that architecture is the objectification of space as experientially patterned. So, like unto art a-la Susanne Langer and Bernard Lonergan, it is the pure experiential patterning of space, or rather the objectification of a purely experiential spatial patterning. Patterning, both its experience and its making, involves the conscious withdrawal and return to the world. Hence, architecture always exhibits an abstraction from the world and a recapitulation in a formal, idealized, and compressed way. Thus architecture is ana-representational– iconic but not identical with the pattern of experience. It is instead a shorthand or compressed image of the experiential pattern. Because it is this and not merely an imitation of spatial patterns and forms we experience, there is a heightened drama in which the architecture must recapitulate the movements of bodies in space using forms available in a virtual and essentialized way within the creation of virtual space(s), imitating “nature” analogically and teleologically and thereby making explicit what is implicitly manifest in our patterned experience thereof.
So, this “explication” in a formal, idealized shorthand is what architecture is after. Hence, in order for us to be at home in this world, architecture must exhibit patterns (that are inherently “ordered”) which are both consonant with our experience of the world and of the world we desire proper to our human flourishing. Speaking to the first, it should imitate our human world (4 ways: restated ground, restated sky, restated horizon, restated threshold), imitate the movement of objects in this world/space (7 ways: up, down, left, right, forwards, backwards, circuitously), and imitate how we experience space (3 ways: foreground, middleground, background). Since architecture itself does not “move” in a literal sense, this involves virtual and relative movement by relations of parts within a whole composition rather than actual movement. Speaking to the second, it is the architect’s role to provide this threshold, or necessary conditions, under which those who experience the architectural whole can consciously, if properly disposed, experience the resolved tension of ones earthly existence by the clear ordering– the marker and the pointer– of the immanent towards the transcendent. Architecture thereby draws us deeper, by virtue of the aforementioned contemplative withdrawal and essentialized return, into the cosmic movement between the earth and the sky in which we find our daily existence.
Thus understood, in both general and specific ways depending on context, architecture is capable of ordering and orienting our lives in the lived, spatially experienced tension inherent in our gravity-bound natural condition, which is isomorphic with the spiritual tension and heaven-bound condition of our souls.