Meteorological Reveries: On Atmosphere, Sensation and the Design of Public Space

Meteorological Reveries is a research seminar that investigates the role of atmosphere and sensation in design. With a particular focus on landscape architecture and urbanism, the seminar traces the genealogy between atmosphere (as meteorological matter and affect) and the development of new ideas about the design of the city and the public realm.

Climatic phenomena, both scientifically and physiologically registered, have always stimulated human imagination and aesthetic disposition. Importantly, and gradually rising in the common-sense, these phenomena are foundational to relevant topics such as health, delight and societal wellbeing. In the present context of atmospheric disruption and corresponding collective alertness, Peter Sloterdijk proposes a \”meteorological turn\” in environmental aesthetics and cultural theory. How does design responds to this challenge? What does it mean to design while considering the spatiality of meteorology and the physiological and sensual capacities of the body? In order to answer these questions and others in the seminar, one must first challenge the ocularcentric construction of space and develop a sensual approach – one that develops from the embodiment of spatial qualities (thermal, luminous, sonic, scented, humid, or poisonous), one that acknowledges the physiological and emotional domains as design parti (Böhme), and one that recognizes sensation as influential to humans’ reception of the built environment and construction of the collective realm (A. Damasio).

Ranging in scope from the vernacular to the utopian and from the microclimate to climate engineering, the seminar investigates a series of paradigmatic case studies at various scales and climatic contexts in which atmosphere and atmospherics are generative to the design. It unpacks design techniques in each of the case studies while following a sequence of lectures and discussions within the following research chapters: (1) Cultural, technological and environmental contexts; (2) Designers’ claims and concepts related to “meteorology as space”; (3) Taxonomical investigation and resulting effects/affects; (4) Sensory depictions.

There will be occasional screenings of key video works that represent particular meteorological conditions related to affect and inhabitation. Occasional guests will participate in the seminar discussions.

Student evaluation is based on the presentation for each research chapter, participation in class, and the development of a final booklet. The seminar is open to every program.