The great space question

Welcome back to Subject Navigator, returning to action after a five-month travel induced hiatus. I have a hell of a lot of blog ideas from my travels, but first of all, I wanted to start with you. Before I start haranguing the internet with my own ideas about videogames and space, I want to ask you all a collective question that hopefully will yield some very interesting discussions and debates for this blog.

What are the most interesting physical spaces you’ve ever been to, and what makes them interesting?

It’s the second part of this question that is important, of course, and I have a few ideas of my own. But I want to really try and quantify this thing; to eventually get some sort of semi hard-and-fast definition going. Of course, it is a subjective criteria, but as a result of my travels and videogame playing I firmly believe that there are certain ways space can be rendered more interesting to the human mind.

I eagerly await your responses. It’s good to be back.
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8 Comments

Filed under analysis, criticism, space, videogames

8 responses to “The great space question

  1. For me, the Blue Mosque is up there, purely for architectural reasons. Same goes for many Japanese Zen gardens, largely for their balance between nature and architecture.

  2. wendy

    Hi Daniel,

    One of the most interesting physical spaces that I have been to recently is the Tokyo International Forum. I’m not sure if you have seen this building, but it is right next to Tokyo station in the center of the city. It looks like a blueprint – a plan, rather than a building designed for a specific function. It is made of glass and metal and if you look up you will notice that the ceiling is created in the shape of a ship’s hull. Traveling on the escalators inside the Forum you can imagine that you are gliding below a ship in the ocean – an impossible sight, an impossible situation. Its like a giant aquarium – without the fish!

    The Tokyo International Forum is a very open, airy and expansive space – in contrast to the busy streets and railway networks that surround it. It houses galleries and a convention center, but I was more impressed that it also hosted some homeless people, or some who just wanted to sit in a sheltered space. I noticed the guards turning a blind eye to the men sharing a drink from a thermos, one man who was checking the ‘form guide’ and others who were setting up their pillows on the benches for a snooze.
    So for me – this is a space that is important and magnificent in its scale, in the clean lines of its design and in its cool surfaces, but mostly because the warmth of the interior is created by its inhabitants.

    Shall I send a photo?
    wendy

  3. Hey Dan, glad to have you back!

    Probably the most interesting space I’ve ever been in was the mountains where I grew up.

    Maybe I’m being over deterministic, but I think that having all that room to move around shaped the way that I look at the world: as a place of possibility.

  4. For me it would be some museums, specifically with how their space is laid out.

    Among these features are The Weather Project in the Tate Modern, a zig-zag pathway of leering metal faces on which you can walk (with great cacophony) in Berlin’s Jewish Museum, and entire walls and structures from Egypt and Turkey in one of Berlin’s field museums (whose name I cannot recall at the moment).

    The fact that this is supposed to be a space where sight lines and the ability to ‘look’ are emphasized create some interested spaces in which to navigate, but not necessarily always interact.

  5. Hmmm, there’s so many that it’s tough to know exactly where to begin. I love Wright’s Guggenheim as a space, as the main space is so open, and sinuous and alive. It’s not the greatest layout for a museum, but it all just feels so organic–right down to where the water leaks in through the roof, which I believe to be a Wright trademark. I love Haneda airport outside Tokyo, which as far as I’m concerned is the greatest travel space I’ve ever seen, with the nicest hotel ever tucked right into it and observation decks and the best airport food of all time. It all manages to feel bustling and vital, so different from the mindnumbing deadness of American airports.

    I’m also a big fan of oases of green and calm that exist inside the rambling cacophony of the city–Ueno Park in Tokyo and Olmstead’s Central Park in New York, especially. Havens for animals that otherwise have nowhere left around and cool spots for people hidden in places otherwise so far gone beyond the human scale that it’s easy to forget what you are. The Bronx Zoo and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are also the sort of thing I’m talking about here–perfect places to go on a rainy Monday in the city and catch your breath, to see a bit of the wild that remains–and that also sits by so closely, waiting for it’s chance to take it all back someday…

  6. First off, welcome back!

    As for spaces, I’ve always enjoyed natural caves or large openings carved into the rocky sides of cliffs by the sea. It’s cool to see what an open space that seems randomly created but still seems open for visitors, as if created intentionally. Large rooms and rock windows are particularly interesting. It’s also a bit scary, since the ocean can – and will – inevitably fill it up again and drown anyone caught by the tide. Freaky stuff.

  7. Thank you all for your very interesting comments. I’m working on something as a result of this, I hope to post it soon.

  8. In the South most of the plantations and manors are tours now, so you can walk around these giant epic homes and just sorta observe this long defunct lifestyle. When you look at something like the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, that just keeps going and going with pools, rooms, parlors, movie theaters, it just…it was fascinating to me because it was so surreal. This way of life is so unaffordable, so unneeded…it’s almost a fiction now. Like walking around a life-size dollhouse or something.

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