“Come here, you fellows, come here! Knock me in the door! Knock me in a door here!’ He gave the size it was to be, accurately in feet and inches; and what he told them to do they did. When the door was knocked through, he walked into the house, and smiled pleasantly at the builder’s remark that the walls were just the proper height for a nice two-storied house. He walked meditatively up and down inside, the masons following him with their tools, and whenever he cried ‘here a window six feet by four; a little one yonder three feet by two,’ out flew the stones as directed.”
E.T.A Hoffman, Tales of Hoffman, Penguin Classic: May 2004, p.161
The text of E.T.A. Hoffman’s short story “Councillor Krespel” conceals a design attitude which appears to full advantage to the position of a designer in contemporary culture. Instead of knowing what he wants to build as his new house, he lets four walls without door or openings whatsoever be erected. It is from this structure that he starts addressing the masonry man where to put the door, floor, interior-walls and windows. The result is a house with a rather awkward appearance from the outside, but ‘once inside you were filled with a quite unexampled sense of wellbeing and comfort’.
Councillor Krespel’s house is enveloped around the physical needs of the inhabitant; the dimension of the space, the entrance of the daylight, all derive out of the presence of the contemplator. No architect is in the position of first erecting the structure, and afterwards adapting it to the inhabitants needs. In the design phase the architect should therefore start with erecting such a structure. Like the writer who must consider the relationship between reader and narrative, the architect must consider the same relationship between the contemplator and space. Both in literature as architecture, empathy is important for the experience of the narrative or space. An experience which derives out of the constant dialogue between man’s direct environment and their memory: ‘poetically man dwells’ like Martin Heidegger proposes.
By use of literature, we as architectural designers want to research spatial experience, experience that can become visible within literature. This leads us to the main question of this thesis: What is the contribution of literature, for the development of a poetical attitude within architectural design?