The transparency of ambiances in architecture

Abstract : How ambiance is created in the frame of the architectural design process of public spaces? This paper shows that creating an ambiance is to design a dialectic relationship between the architectural elements that might constitute the back‐plan and the ones that assure the potential emergence of the events, expressing thereby several levels of transparency as the transparency of senses and the transparency of practices. Based on the analysis of the research corpus of 25 projects of public spaces, mainly from Greece and France and also from other European countries such as Sweden and Spain, emerge several types of ambiance that cross projects, countries and cultures: the actual ambiance that exists due to the climatic, geographic, architectural and social conditions of the place and those that are not even there but they are waiting to be activated (virtual) by the individual perception and sensibility of users. These ambiances can become more identifiable and collective by the repetition of perceptual and perceptible phenomena. The paper presents the emerging attitudes concerning the creation of ambiance in public space. They are described by abstract nouns indicating the actions of managing the actual and emerging ambiances, such as the revelation, the reconfiguration and the merge. Through these actions are revealed the architectural intentions which will activate the affective dimensions of the project, such as the acclimatization, the appropriation and the challenging. Transparency of senses Every architectural project manages physical, social, sensible qualities of space and creates ambiance when experienced by future users. What kind of ambiance is created by the design? What do designers seek? If the ambiance is an overall and diffused feeling, then it needs a random event in order to awake the perception of its quality. So, the ambiance in the singular degree expresses a general and subtle feeling, while in the plural degree, ambiances are the expressions of the micro events that emerge from the dynamic interaction between the subject's sensibility and its context ‐ emerging ambiances (Paxinou, 2016). In other words, the ambiance can be considered as the transparent link between the designed space and the lived one. It filters architectural practices through the lived experience. It creates a general, stable, transparent back‐plan which reflects the unexpected events. The events unfold in the front‐plan and are activated by the interaction between users and the architectural design. This dialectical relation between the elements that assure the back‐plan and the conditions that activate events determines the transparency between the architectural practices and the ones of the users (Paxinou, 2016). Every place has an ambiance which arises from the combinations of its various environmental, architectural and cultural characteristics (Norberg‐Schulz, 2009). A person feels constantly in the back‐plan of his body a general and indeterminate feeling (Damasio, 2010). Due to the transparency of the senses he cannot perceive immediately its quality. In order to understand what is happening he mentally
Document type :
Conference papers
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [7 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Evangelia Paxinou <>
Submitted on : Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 11:00:46 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 2, 2018 - 10:16:13 AM


The transparency of ambiances ...
Files produced by the author(s)


  • HAL Id : halshs-01615271, version 1



Evangelia Paxinou. The transparency of ambiances in architecture. ICTA2016- Internation Conference on Architecture and Transparency - Emerging Complexities, Nov 2016, Thessaloniki, Greece. ⟨halshs-01615271⟩



Record views


Files downloads