Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? ..
.. To this I answer in one word, from experience. … John Locke (1632 – 1704) philosopher and political theorist known to quite possibly the most influential figure in the founding of empiricism.
His theory was to believe that we humans construct our minds and comprehension based purely through our experiences that are provided by the five senses; sight, sound, taste, touch and smell which leads to building our knowledge then shaping our identity through observing and asking.The word Empiricism, extracted from “emperikos”, a Greek term meaning experience; from the root words “en peira ” translating to “in trial/experiment”.John Lockes essay concerning Human Understanding (1690) he denies any claims that humans were born with any form of innate ideas as thought by rationalists. We were born as blank pieces of paper, our experiences teach us and materialize each individual through our sensory encounters and allow us to build and shape ourself through this understanding.
However Lockes theory didn’t go without its complications, being born as a blank piece of paper would suggest that we are all born as equal to one another which should be the case. But ideas of people being better or worse than one another in accordance to elements such wealth, bloodline and social class caused implications within Lockes theory more commonly known as Prejudice (preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience), A complication and fight we still face as a country and worldwide to this day in regards to sex, race, sexual orientation and religion.Education is a key example of Lockes theory, to this day having a better education leads to social advancement, through his impressive theory and knowledge over the years it has been able to be built upon and this leads on to David Hume (1711 – 1776) a Scottish Philosopher know for his most important work and one of the most influential works within the history of philosophy ” A Treatise of Human Nature”. In this Hume agrees with Locke but builds upon this theory explaining how “the extent and force of human understanding” is effected by passion rather than reason and argues this against the rationalists ” reason is, and ought only to be the slave to the passions”. He raises questions about causality, this is the term that is the generic connection through phenomena (one event that leads to another) . An example of this would be the weather forecast…
This is an analysis of the weather in a certain area but only based on an assessment of likely developments, so the forecast says it is going to rain. However there is no evidence to suggest that this is 100% accurate and it will rain at 4 O’clock because there is only a consistency in which it has been correct in the past, therefore in empirical terms there is no verification. Therefore the reason in which we act to something is purely based upon probability because something cannot be certain and that common sense tells you to act in the way you do. This is where Hume explains that our internal emotions are what we rely on to reason the way we act.So how does this movement relate to architecture? Well without knowledge and understanding of anything we wouldn’t be where we are today, over the hundreds and thousands of years people have been passing on their knowledge which is built upon from the next person and so on, allowing us to know as much as we do about so many aspects of the world even the universe and the cause or reasoning behind it all of course including architecture. All this understanding originally spans from our sensory inputs, the way in which we have learned the things we have, through sight, sound, and all our senses, they are what drive our taste for knowledge!So through my understanding there are two primary aspects of empirical ways in architecture.1: Through the use of drawing conclusions and building theories, how the design undergoes various repetitive processes that only after this the buildings forms, atmosphere and its entity of organized spatial relations are produced from this.2: Focusing on the sensory data that like I previously explained is the key to our knowledge, therefore creating spaces that provide textures and a variety of contrast between spaces, light and dark for instance.
This is where I come to the building I have chosen to talk about. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, an amazing piece of contemporary architecture which designed by Daniel Liebiskind to commemorate and remember the Jewish citizens and the terrible happenings of the Holocaust in 1933 to 1945 during the second world war.In 1988 the city cenerard decided to build a new Jewish museum which would replace the old one that was closed half a century before, a competition was held for the design of the new building and 165 architects had entered the competition, one of which being Daniel Liebskind.
Young and unknown he explained his inspiration for the project was Walter Benjamin’s book “one way street” and Schoenberg’s opera “Moses und Aron”. He felt so strongly of his inspiration he wrote his design proposal on musical paper and titled it “Between The Lines”History and Culture…
Two main aspects in which Liebsiknd integrated into his design for the museum, he believed it was so important to understand the events that happened in the Holocaust and enriched himself in knowledge to allow him to have a true and deep understanding of the pain that was inflicted in the dark times.His design..
. A Zigzag shaped form that the people in Berlin nicknames “the Blitz” however the shape has a much deeper meaning, the shape is in-fact a distorted and stretched version of the Jewish star.Only really seen from a birds eye view the building is far more discrete from down below and fits in to the neighbouring buildings, respecting the bold historic Baroque Old Building which it stands beside. Despite being a neighbouring building to the museum it the Baroque building also houses the entrance to the new museum.The movement of the building is not as harsh as it may seem, many trees are situated on the sight and the presence of one tree in particular makes the building change direction along with the other greenery making the building more difficult to be seen from the road. Only a narrow fragment sticks out allowing it to blend in to its surrounding environment which also suggests no sign of deterrence anywhere around the building with there being no visual link or connection between the two buildings suggesting where the entrance actually is.A Journey through the buildingEntering the museum through the old building you are greeted by a large entrance within the building that is materialized by untreated concrete with bold sharp angles this acting as a warning for the journey ahead.
..Now unlike many other Museums which hold impressive staircases leading you up to the heavens, Liebskind went for a different approach and takes you down into the foundations of the old building to where you start.
Looking up shows you are in-fact at the bottom of a concrete well where the staircase pierces every level through the Baroque building leaving its Jewish mark on the German monument and a hidden replication of the harsh violence.The surface building hides a more simplistic floor plan below which consists of three corridors guarded by a concrete tower which holds the entrance. A central island is situated in between the corridors allowing only two to be seen at one time, causing a mysterious and intriguing sense of urge to see what’s around the corner being it impossible to have an overall vision of the axis. The axis hold three experiences in German Jewish culture continuity, exile and death. These spaces provide an enhanced experienced that are pro-founded by the sharp lines of light in the ceiling that guide you though the corridor.
At the end of the corridor a staircase which looks like an average staircase but as you become close it seems apparent there’s a long way up… But again looking up (similarly in the entrance tower) you are exposed to an amazing perspective above leading from the basement to the third floor. At the top of the stairs Liebskind uses space to create effect however he only does so by expanding the space upwards.
Leaving the corridors the same space just with a change in height leaving the visitor feeling trapped. Concrete beams hold the walls apart and have a visual view of seeming as if they are struggling. Symbolises the difficulty and struggles the Jews had to face.The other axis are exhibition spaces, with cabinets designed by the architect which hold art, photos and children drawings similar to what any regular family would own in their home however these no longer mean anything to anyone anymore. Also held in the spaces are souvenirs and belongings of some of the people from the horrific events.Axis of the holocaust : ends at a black door Behind the door is a dark tower “the tower of the holocaust”Blank walls that are only illuminates by a silt of light the only relationship the tower has to the outside. The tower however is situated separate from the original structure but only accessible though the axis underground. Separate volume in symmetry with the hidden entrance tower The third axis is exile the one that symbolised the leaving of German that leads outside into the open air this is where you are in the garden of exile greeted by 49 concrete pillars in which trees are planted within.
.. With some resemblance to the hanging garden of Babylon, with a different meaning though an image for uprooting. The loss of a reference point ans de stabilises and causes you to be unbalanced because of the sloped 10 degrees floor this is also a dead end and is cut off from the outside world which causes you to be in a type of illusion or dream in Which you get a gimps of freedom but it is a lie the only way Out is the enter back into the dark museum. Independent Elements that related through the use of material in comparison to the zinc covered facade of the museum and are quite distinct against the main building.Covered in non anxidise zinc the wrapper of the building hides the modern construction beneath as well as the core axis which are buried beneath the marker..
. This shell will change over the years and become more grey, the slashes become more readable.Slashes represent the scars and pain the Jews endured and are organised by Leibskind drawing on a map of Berlin to link both real and imaginary symbolic figures of German Judaism. He there projected the non architectural idea on the volumes of the building design.
However this did cause some problems… Being a museum the gallery space was found difficult to hang art on the walls because of the strategic arrangement. Therefore was left empty in 1999.
within in the space of 2 years 350,000 people had visited the museum and felt it was better left this way as it the architecture speaks for itself.