Existential experience : the unfolding

Shah, Rinkle, Franz, Jill M., & Smith, Diane (2009) Existential experience : the unfolding. In The 2nd Architecture and Phenomenology International Conference, 26-29 June 2009 , Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto .

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This paper reports on a project concerned with the relationship between person and space in the context of achieving a contemplative state. The need for such a study originated with the desire to contribute to the design of multicultural spaces which could be used for a range of activities including prayer and meditation. Given that the words ‘prayer’ and ‘meditation’ are highly value-laden and potentially alienating for some people, it was decided to use the more accessible term ‘contemplative’. While the project is still underway,several findings have emerged that can be reported on and are of relevance to the conference both methodologically and substantively.

Informed by phenomenological methodology, data were collected from a diverse group of people using photo-elicitation and interviewing. The technique of photo-elicitation proved to be highly effective in helping people to reveal their everyday lived experience of contemplative spaces. This methodological aspect of the project is described more fully in the paper. The initial stage of analysis produced two categories of data: varying conceptions of contemplation and contemplative space; and, common understandings of contemplation and contemplative space. From this it was found that achieving a state of contemplation involves both the person and the environment in a dialectic process of unfolding. The unfolding has various physical, psycho-social, and existential dimensions or qualities which operate sequentially and simultaneously. In the paper, these are labelled:the unfolding of the core; distinction; manifestation; cleansing; creation; and sharing, and have parallels with Mircea Eliade’s 1959 definition of sacred as 'something that manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane’. It also connects with the views of Nishida Kitaro from the Kyoto School of Philosophy on the theme of ‘absolute nothingness’: ‘the body-mind is dropped off and we are united with the consciousness of absolute nothingness’ (Kitaro in Heisig, 2001, p. 169). According to Marion (2005), ‘nothingness’ is defined by givenness. In the paper, this fold of givenness is interpreted in the context of the qualities of the environment that accomplish the act of coming forward into visibility through the dialectic relationship with a person.

(Eliade, 1959, Heisig, 2001, Marion, 2002)

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ID Code: 26502
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Papers have not been published on the conference website - but the conference organisers advise the papers will be uploaded at a later date
Keywords: Existential experience, phenomenology, interior design
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Interior Design (120106)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural Design (120101)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 27 Jul 2009 22:39
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:54

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