Architecture is a creative process that relies on representational tools (drawings, physical scale
models, digital models etc.), which describe what is being designed. Such tools are useful in
showing the position of the solid elements that make up a building, their shape and size, as well
as the physical boundaries of the space. Even though these tools are “immaterial” representations,
they are different to the immateriality that is associated with space when experienced by users.
This research is interested in theoretical debates relating to immateriality as part of the users’
spatial experience and how these can inform the design process.
Firstly, this study discusses the relationship between architecture as a creative process, and the
lived experience of people as a way of consuming space. Space is seen as a product of the design
process and the context in which architecture exists. The particular context that this research is
interested in is that of Bahrain, as a typical example of a geo-cultural part of the world, whose
economic conditions and cultural values are changing fast.
Given that Bahrain is part of the Islamic world, the discussion of the context is extended to Islamic
architecture. The thesis will delve into how Islamic architecture, which is informed by religious
and cultural values, combines both material functions and immaterial aspects. However, the
economic and social transformation that the Gulf region has seen over the last few decades has
impacted on people and their relationship with the everyday space, the city, its design and the
way it is experienced.
Using both the place of dwelling, as a private space, and public spaces in the city, this thesis looks
at the spatial experience of city dwellers to consider how that experience relates to the context in
which those spaces exist. This thesis is particularly interested in the immaterial aspects of the
users’ spatial experience, which is often overlooked or naively assumed to be part of the design
brief. This study uses qualitative research approaches, as it aims to explore people’s lives and to
identify and clarify its underlying meanings. Firstly, case studies from the literature were referred
to in order to gain a sufficient understanding of architecture, culture, context and their impact on
people’s lived experience. Subsequently, fieldwork-based primary research was undertaken using
a variety of methods including semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion, organised
walks with participants and observations.
It is anticipated that the discussion would lead to a better understanding of some of the issues
around immateriality in architecture that could inform architecture as a practice and a discipline.
Such a practice would reflect the social, cultural and environmental conditions of this particular
context. In this respect, the design process will be informed by both material and immaterial
consideration of the users and their context.
|Date of Award||Dec 2016|