Reading the Room
How do we “read” architecture?
“Reading the room” requires a capacity to see beyond what has been made explicit. Initial perceptions of implied signals and intangible atmospheres often determine whether our actions towards others are seen as careless or thoughtful, easy or awkward, appropriate or inappropriate; they form the basis of how we interact with the people and spaces around us.
Similarly, architecture can be understood as a relational act. A building may internalize, dialogue with, disrupt, or misread its context. As readers of buildings we might find ourselves reflected in or alienated from the architecture we experience, whether that be through long inhabitations or passing glimpses; as inscribers of material and incorporeal spaces alike, we might also think about how others read our work. In architecture, (mis)interpretation goes both ways.
This issue of Paprika!, produced in collaboration with Rice Architecture’s PLAT Journal, investigates how architecture reads its context and how it, in turn, is read. With contributions from architects, writers, designers, curators, students, and educators, “Reading the Room” approaches the practice of reading as a critical way to literally and literarily engage with environments through close reads, quick scans, and misreadings.
As editors, our hope is that “Reading the Room” encourages a greater sensitivity in how we consider the spaces we perceive, occupy, and move through.
Paul DeFazio and Jane van Velden are second- and third-year students (respectively) in the M.Arch program at the Rice School of Architecture, and co-editors of PLAT 10.5 and 11. Jerry Chow is a second-year M.Arch I student at the Yale School of Architecture.