UVa School of Architecture
Inherent in the word “contemplate,” which derives from the Latin, meaning “to observe, especially in a space (temple) marked off for observation” is a concern for how physical design affects mind states and social interaction. In collaboration with CSC and the Center for Design and Health, an Architecture School project is exploring how the built and natural environment in turn, as well as proper design in these diverse contexts, can positively impact mental, emotional, physical, and social states of being, thereby fostering contemplative awareness. From sacred spaces such as religious buildings, to calming gardens, to spaces of refuge in vibrant urban centers, the qualities of space that promote contemplation are recognizable but rarely studied methodically. Research will generate knowledge useful to professionals across disciplines and to the public at large.
UVa is exploring how contemplation can facilitate design thinking in place, building, engineering, courses, products, and more by fostering creativity, empathy, and clarity. The Architecture School is exploring integration of contemplation into design studio work and its connection with innovation, creativity, and wellbeing. There are a number of professors in the Architecture School who have indicated strong commitments to exploring contemplation and space under the leadership of Dean Kim Tanzer, including Peter Waldman and Schaeffer Somers who are offering a seminar this semester with students exploring contemplative spaces and buildings in relationship to CSC and partners, senior professor Reuben Rainy with his life-long background in sacred spaces, Associate Dean Phoebe Crissman who is interested in integrating contemplation into the schools’ summer design studio in India, and much more.
The CSC is also promoting the creation of a network of contemplative spaces around the U.Va. in collaboration with the School of Architecture Grounds, such as the “resiliency rooms” in the Nursing building and the South Lawn. Similar spaces should be designated in every school and residential hall, whether in library spaces, gardens, or dedicated rooms. The singular most dramatic expression of design and place would be a new building - we are currently raising funds - dedicated to the CSC and located centrally and projected as facilitating contemplative practices and awareness through an innovative approach to academic space combining instructional, residential, practice, and events spaces into an integrated whole.
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