Volume 2, Issue 2, Fall 2010
Tuning Person and Place in the Porches of Alison and Peter Smithson
Late in their architectural career, Alison and Peter Smithson designed an eighty-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space for a man and his cat. The Smithsons described this modest space in methodological and phenomenal terms, noting that the addition to Axel Bruchhäuser’s Hexenhaus could be read “as an exemplar of a method by which a small physical change—a layering-over of air adhered to an existing fabric—can bring about a delicate tuning of persons with place.” The Hexenhaus’ tuning elements—second skin, tree screen, and double-acting mesh—create a “treillage’d space” that supplants mediation, reframes attunement, and elicits an active weaving of person, place, and phenomena. This paper seeks to understand what the architects meant by “tuning” and in the process to outline operations for spatial weaving.