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The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  2,519 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Since the book's first publication, interest in the role of the body and the senses has been emerging in both architectural philosophy and teaching. This new, revised and extended edition of this seminal work will not only inspire architects and students to design more holistic architecture, but will enrich the general reader's perception of the world around them.

The Eyes
Paperback, 80 pages
Published May 17th 2005 by John Wiley and Sons (first published April 11th 1996)
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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 ·  2,519 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Clif Brittain
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Architects, builders

"Please don't lick the art." Sign at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

There is no such sign on the IDS building or Crystal Court inside. Some art you want to consume, other art makes you want to run the other direction. This book helps you understand why.

This book explores a lot of stuff we take for granted. Or more usually, ignore. In contemporary society, vision is our primary sense. It is also probably our most impersonal sense. You are reading this with your eyes. Before we were literat
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-architecture
Everyone loves this book. Well, at least all the architects I know. But then my only 'friends' seem to all be designers, so not that much diversity of opinion there. Not that I don't try, but people tend to not respond well to 3am 'Maxwell just crashed at 17% The end is nigh!!!' texts.

I guess I should address my Goodreader friends as well. We're friends right?

Ok, so there isn't much I can say that hasn't been said or better yet, practiced by the likes of Zumthor and Holl. But, as if I actually
Kio Stark
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
total nonsense but full of evocative, useful phrases
Andrew Fairweather
With it's repeated condemnation of so-called "Western" sensibilities, this book is sure to tickle the fancy of many of today's readers—add a dash of Goldsmithian "Deserted Village" lamentations, and you've got yourself a hit! Essentially, Pallasmaa enframes his practical prescription for the 21st century architecture as up against a Western "visual bias" which he is able to trace back to ancient Greek philosophy all the way to Modern Western thought. Never mind that Plato in 'Phaedrus' warns of ...more
Tara Brabazon
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book and inspirational. Pallasmaa is a remarkable writer and each sentence is evocative and can be the springboard for further analysis and thought.

The short book investigates how the senses are activated in and through architecture and the built environment. Logging the ocularcentric nature of most architecture theory, Pallasmaa evokes sound (and silence), but also scent and texture in a profoundly moving and effective way.

Most significantly, there is attention to memory, passion a
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A re-wakening of our senses.....
Afra Anan Saba
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my first architectural read which purely deals with philosophy. And I am pretty sure I will re-read this book soon.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful fusion of architecture and philosophy
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book! Starting from the vision hegemony dominating western culture since Classical Greece and the Cartesian abdication of the remaining senses projecting onto our ways of experiencing and understanding of the cosmos, Pallasmaa discusses the impact on space production and architecture. In his second part he goes on to describe architecture as a multisensory, rather than a simply ocular experience, and talks of the subjective ways and other senses beyond the 5 known ones it is ...more
Carlos Clorth
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, xx-70-s-90-s
In such a small amount of pages there's so much from ocularcentrism and the loss of senses to Pallaasma's take on arquitecture.
It embraces an interesting philosophy way beyond my expectations.
Jane Pontiñela
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Insightful. I'm not a student of architecture but the points highlighted are clear amd distinct. It seems that it provided me a new perspective regarding art that is not entirely visual.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Pallasmaa explains the importance of architecture's role in stimulating our senses and expresses his concern for the dominance of vision in comparison to our other senses when architecture is taught, critiqued and conceived, resulting in the disappearance of sensory and sensual qualities of architecture. He also explains how and why we could really benefit from designs that are created with not only sight but all of our senses in mind.

The book is called "The eyes of the skin" because, as Pallas
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this rather slim, easy-to-read volume, Pallasmaa makes a convincing case for architecture and space as more than just visual treat, but as something that is inevitably, inherently lived in, experienced with the whole body of the person inhabiting such spaces. This seems somewhat obvious when one reads it, and yet it is easy to see how this gets lost in ideas of visual appeal for physical spaces. Again and again Pallasmaa returns to the form and function of space as assisting in providing meta ...more
Anna S.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
The subject of metaphysics of architecture is rather personal, but he seems not confident in sharing his own perspective. The book is very short and most of it are expert citations, that ends up outshine him. Look at this word by Tadao Ando in the book:
"I like to see how far architecture can pursue function and then, after the pursuit has been made, to see how far architecture can be removed from function. The significance of architecture is found in the distance between it and function"

I think
Renato D'Alençon
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Juhani Pallasmaa's "The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses" (Chichester: Wiley and Sons, 1996), has become since its publication in 1996 a classic of the theory of Architecture, proposing the reconsideration of the integrity of the senses in our experience of architecture. Starting from a critique of the predominance of vision as the only way for architectural thought, which has replaced the direct experience of space as the basis for the appraisal and decision-making process in desig ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first serious architectural theory books I have read, The Eyes of the Skin is an insightful analysis of architecture in relation to the five senses. As a philosophy enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised by the frequent references to familiar names - Pallasmaa certainly expanded my view on both of these disciplines (and their intimate connections for that matter) with this work. I think I enjoyed the latter half of the essay more than the first, but it is a great read overall. This is ...more
Brian Sullivan
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book helpfully challenges the medusa like gze that petrifies our attention. The computer has perhaps drawn us away from the artists experience of his artistic vision through his body awareness. Te hegemoy of sight is forgetting the importance of "The Preconscious, perceptual realm, which is experienced outside the sphere of focused vision seems to be more important than the focused image".
What of the realm space and collective behavior? For so long the art of story was the unifier of commun
Lucy Zhang
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You have to really be interested in the more emotional/phenomenological approach to architecture in order to appreciate this book. If you enjoyed Atmospheres (and other works) by Peter Zumthor, then this is a really good addition to your list. I would say that artists in general could find valuable insights in this book, as Pallasmaa is essentially describing what makes art truly authentic and why it is so important to engage a viewer/inhabitant/visitor by creating a vivid multi-sensory experien ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very short book, but quite lovely. Transitions from some ocular centric critiques to discussing space and feeling. Quite good, I will need to make this book a priority again, as it makes a link clear for me in my own work... on space versus place. Thanks Pallasmaa!
Zia Gogh
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Shape of Touch A pebble polished by waves is pleasurable to the hand, not only because of its soothing shape, but because it expresses the slow process of its formation; a perfect pebble on the palm materializes duration, it is time turned into shape.
Marta D Cardoner
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really good book that reflects on the need of understanding architecture beyond the visuals. “An architectural work is not experienced as a collection of isolated visual pictures, but in its fully embodied material and spiritual presence”.
Anna Keating
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
A thousand times yes.
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
reading this book was a journey. i got distracted and lost a lot by the amount the author described small and simple details.. sometimes frustrating but overall i think it was a great book.
Tasnim Hussam
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
it's that kind of beautiful things which carry you far away and recalls all your senses experiences together all at once in a very easy format of words .. very recommended YOU NEED TO HAVE IT !!
Pablo Lopes
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture
this book made me rethink some of my practices as an architect and also made me want to know more about phenomenology.
Maria Lackovicova
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
must read for architects
Leandro Llorente
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a visually-biased practice, this is a must-read to Architects who aims to embrace depth of spatial understanding.
Vanderlei Alves
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brief but rich discussion on the inflated importance of sight and negligence of the other senses in Western culture and how that affects architecture.
Kuba Kozaczenko
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poetic, beautiful approach toward the architecture. Sometimes a little bit complicated, which make it confusing from time to time. Generally speaking very good.
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