In 1644, the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli built the first mercury barometer showing that air could be weighed. His conclusion that “we live submerged at the bottom of a sea of air” was a direct corollary to his invention. Everything we do and build and think takes place in this aeriform ocean, which, often held as a passive background in popular thinking, is omnipresent nonetheless. In fact, our planet is enveloped by an atmosphere whose substance is not stable. Nor are our conceptions of it. In this seminar, we will examine architecture’s broad relation with the atmosphere across different periods to the present, look into issues of ventilation, and discuss our own entanglements as breathing beings with the environment. Different methods from case studies, historic research, writings by architects, as well as essays from a variety of other disciplines will help us throw into relief such aspects as health, ecology, media studies, technology, and physiology.
Image: John Emslie & James Reynolds, The Earth and its Atmosphere
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London