There is often a difference between the architectural theory and practice. The theory incorporates elements of abstraction, immateriality, and virtuality (Mori, 2012). However, architectural practice remains deeply rooted in the material properties. On its part, immateriality in architecture deals with the reduction of both the physical and immaterial worlds. It concentrates on how buildings can be simplified to their basic elements so as to improve on lightness and transparency (Diani, 2012). This paper examines the separation of the material from the immaterial, the concepts of perception and literal immateriality, and artistic manifestations.
The main point of argument when studying immaterial architecture begins with regards to the ability to separate the material from the immaterial. According to scholars, the user makes the final determination as to whether a piece of architecture is material or immaterial (Kristal, 2011). The role of the architect in this scenario is to provide a context in which the user can make that determination. Therefore, separation between the material and immaterial can be made through fusing both elements and allowing a condition whereby the user can use his perceptions of matter and use to make a determination (Mori, 2012).

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Human perceptions play a big role in determining the materiality or immateriality of architecture. People rely on their memories and feelings when judging architecture. The tectonics of the buildings help in reinforcing the perceptions that people have (Hill, 2006). Thus, the line between literal and perception in immateriality are blurred by the human element.

Due to the limited application or understanding of immateriality in practice, most of the portrayal has been artistic. Artists have greater leeway to use their perceptions and create buildings and other social places that can be considered to be immaterial. One of the most well-known immaterial depictions is the House of Usher in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher (Hill, 2006).

In conclusion, immateriality exists in architecture although it is up to the determination of the individual user. There are often limitations in the way the immateriality can be depicted in a physical world. As such, most of the depictions are confined to the artistic sphere. This shows that there is still a lingering misunderstanding of the concept.

  • Diani, M. (2012). The Immaterial society: design, culture, and technology in the postmodern world. Prentice Hall.
  • Hill, J. (2006). Immaterial architecture. Routledge.
  • Kristal, M. (2011). Immaterial world: transparency in architecture. Random House Digital, Inc..
  • Mori, T. (Ed.). (2012). Immaterial/ultramaterial: architecture, design, and materials. Harvard Design School.