HKUST(GZ) University Activity Center. Credit: TAL

Meta Farley. Credit: Connie Zhou

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Hana Kassem Explores the Multi-Faceted Relationship Between Humans and Architecture

In an essay for Italian architecture magazine The Plan, the KPF Principal outlines three humanist principles developed by neuroscientist Anjan Chatterjee – coherence, fascination, and hominess – that inform her design work in the studio.

Architects have long sought to perfect the art of crafting spaces which resonate with their users, both in an individual and collective sense. Citing pioneering studies in the field of “neuroaesthetics,” or the scientific investigation of aesthetic experience, Hana points to three key features of a resonant space: coherence, “how organized and legible a space or work of architecture is,” fascination, “how intriguing and rich it is,” and hominess, “how comfortable one feels in a space.”

Defying the universalist connotations these principles carry, Hana uses examples from her work—the design of the University Activity Center at HKUST(GZ) and the renovation of office space within the historic James A. Farley Building into a contemporary workplace for Meta—to demonstrate how each principle must instead be understood as an embedded part of a given cultural or institutional context. This heightened sensitivity to the user’s specificity then creates an opening for higher orders of experience and meaning. The result, according to Hana, is a vision of architecture that is both more humane and more open to “the realm of the abstract and phenomenological.”

Read Hana’s full essay online here.