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Body of Knowledge: Knowing Bodies


Katharina Voigt

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June 19, 2023

This contribution addresses tacit knowledge as an embodied form of knowing and traces the potential of the body to inform and explore, contain and convey, obtain and express architectural knowledge — in the experiencing, designing, creating, and living of architectural space. If, as framed by Polanyi, »we know more than we can tell«, focusing on the body and its immanent knowledge allows to access immediate forms of architectural knowledge. Experience, memory, and the capacity for anticipation are equally rooted in the body; corporeally anchored, contained in, and inscribed to the body. Respectively, creative imagination in architectural design relies upon the body. Through knowing how we experience architecture, we are eager to anticipate future perception in architectural design. Following my doctoral thesis, entitled “Impulses and Dialogues of Architecture and the Body”, I present the knowledge of the body as a contribution to the body of knowledge of architecture: Using the example of the working method and oeuvre of Sasha Waltz & Guests – which I investigate against the background of my own artistic practice, especially in in-situ and site-specific performances, as well as my attempts at the including of somatic practices into my academic teaching in the field of architecture – I exploit the body as a medium of spatial research, and as an immediate form of conveyance and expression in the discipline of architecture.

This paper will be presented at the TACK Conference in the paper session NATURE(S), 19 June 2023 between 14:30 – 17:00 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

Katharina Voigt addresses the interrelation and reciprocal influences of architectural and physical thinking in her artistic practice, academic teaching, and scientific research, working in the field of architecture and contemporary dance. Her doctoral thesis “Impulses and Dialogues of Architecture and the Body” addresses different modes of the body and their potential influence on the architecture discipline. She works at the Chair of Architectural Design and Conception at the Technical University of Munich and is one of the Lead Editors of “Dimensions. Journal of Architectural Knowledge”.