Emotion, Materiality & Design
Union Chapel

Senior Studio | Arch 476
Associate Professor Kevin Hinders

In our current consumerist culture, the art of architecture is threatened by two opposite processes; it is reduced to mere utility and economy, on the one hand, and to pure representation or aestheticization, on the other.  While architecture has been rationalized and instrumentalized through processes of modernization, it has lost it cosmic, metaphysical, symbolic and emotive content.

During the modern era, western culture has gradually eliminated the reality of death from normal human consciousness and emotion.  The design of a funeral chapel or funerary object, such as a casket, urn, grave marker and monument, calls for special sensitivity, understanding, tact, and compassion.  Funerary architecture and design has to be consoling and dignifying without being sentimental or patronizing.  The Studio assignment is to design an intimate non-denominational or ecumenical burial chapel which does not include the technical facilities for creation. 

The project sites are the existing cemetaries adjacent to the Univeristy of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  The Studio focuses on the emotional and spiritual dimensions of architecture.  The expressive potential of materiality, light, color and proportionality are especially studied.  In order to identify a personal emotive ground for the design of the funerary chapel, the studio process includes special exercises (incuding the design and construction of a full scale funeral urn), lecture and conversations on the emotional and poetic essence of architecture and the arts. 

As other art forms seem to contain stronger emotional meanings than architecture, examples of various arts will be studied for the purpose of identifying how emotion is evoked and suggesting ways in which architectural language could be emotionally intensified.