Sight Unseen

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

  • Yui Uchimura

Phenomenological Investigations Into Our Mind’s Eye

Themes — Unseeing ‘Sight’

Vision has historically been considered the most important of the senses. We live in a society that increasingly places great emphasis on instant visual gratification. In response, our built environment is often designed with a bias towards sight.

However—can the dominance of vision blind us to our immediate environment, and disengage us from our other senses? What if visual perception was to be replaced with haptic perception?

To explore these questions, the studio assumes a dystopian future where sight is progressively disappearing amongst the majority of the world’s population; students will imagine designs for a world that has equal populations of people without sight; people with various degrees of declining sight; and, a minority of people who possess a genetic mutation which allows for full retention of sight.

Process — Sensory Translation | Enactive + Embodied Design

The studio will delve into a phenomenological investigation into whether architecture can be used to reclaim our other senses. Using the process of sensory translation and enactive experimentation, students will ‘enact’ scenarios in rituals of living, art and the public realm, actively participating in the generation of sensory knowledge. Individual sensory experiences arising from a dynamic interaction with the built environment will contribute to a collective multi-sensory cognition. This archive of sensory knowledge will then be translated into architectural designs that are rich in sensory outcomes through a series of design esquisses, where our entire body and consciousness are used as tools that both interact with, and facilitate, the understanding of the spaces we inhabit.

Emphasis will be placed on hand drawings and physical modelling as an important design tool, particularly during the earlier design phases, to explore the idea of design as an embodied process.


The studio will be held in four key phases, with enactive analysis & design methods culminating in increasingly larger-scale designs:

  • Phase I — Rituals of Living: Unseen Objects & Emotion
  • Phase II — Phenomenology of Art: Translation
  • Phase III — Unseeing the Public Realm
  • Phase IV — Architecture Unseen

Students will critique, discard and refine their architectural ideas to form one cohesive architectural project: a multi-sensory house museum that engages the mind’s eye, enquiring how heightened modes of perception and cognition are facilitated through architecture. Enactive experimentation & design esquisses will explore the haptic architectural experience through the tactility of texture, acoustics, scale, smell, light and air movement; consider the importance of architectural cues used as a navigational tool; integrate the sense of touch, positional awareness, balance, sound, smell and memory; and enhance the experiential quality for both the sighted and visually impaired.