Memory, Social Interaction, and Communicability in Extraordinary Experiences of Architecture

“Memory, Social Interaction, and Communicability in Extraordinary Experiences of Architecture.”


ABSTRACT: Using nearly 2,900 entries from a previously documented survey on “Extraordinary Architectural Experiences” (or EAEs), this paper reports in how memory, socialization, and communication affect and, in turn, are affected by the highest aesthetic reception of architecture. More specifically, nine (‘comparative mnemonic impact’, ‘fresh recollection’, ‘intensity’, ‘profoundity’, ‘vividness’, ‘transformation’, ‘body reactions’, and ‘weeping’), six (‘social company’, ‘sharing’, ‘non-talking’, ‘introspection/silence’, ‘comparative mnemonic impact’, and ‘fresh recollection’), and three (‘verbal’, ‘visual’, and ‘multimedia’ language) categorical variables were gauged to determine the mnemonic, social, and communicability dimensions of EAEs respectively. The data was examined using three subsequent levels of statistical analysis. The results empirically demonstrate that (1) a committed aesthetic engagement of the built environment offers great opportunities for a deep and lasting existential experience; (2) EAEs cause a fundamental change in people’s cognitive or affective understanding of architecture; (3) while EAEs are inevitably rooted in first-person phenomenology (i.e., not socially active events), they possess a strong a posteriori social nature; and (4) EAEs resist communication to such an extent as to be considered ineffable. These are findings with practical and theoretical consequences for anyone interested in studying, teaching, or practicing architecture.

KEYWORDS: aesthetics, phenomenology, ineffable, socialization, survey

CITATION: Bermudez, Julio, and Brandon Ro. “Memory, Social Interaction, and Communicability in Extraordinary Experiences of Architecture.” In The Visibility of Research: Proceedings of the 2013 ARCC Spring Research Conference, Architectural Research Centers Consortium, edited by Chris Jarrett, Kyoung-Hee Kim and Nick Senske, 677-84. Charlotte, NC: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2013. Available online at:

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