It is the ability to see,
to have a mental picture.
It can be something seen in a dream or trance, with prophetic significance.
It is something beautiful or pleasing.
The last few months have caused me to really consider the concept of “vision.” A few years ago, I was suddenly diagnosed with a detached retina that required multiple surgeries to correct. It was a frightening and unexpected chain of events. The possibility of losing my sight was devastating. This past summer, my 19 year old daughter was facing the same trauma with retinal tears, holes and lattice degeneration in her eyes. Thankfully with the help and skill of some amazing doctors, we caught it in time, and were able to fully repair the retina before any detachment could occur. Nevertheless, reeling from the panic and worry, I found myself reflecting on what vision really is.
It is so often that we take “seeing” for granted; even though, it is one of the senses that we so heavily rely upon. Being able to see our surroundings, ourselves, and others around us is truly a human need. But, there are varying levels of depth when it comes to “seeing.” We can merely observe, or we can see more deeply. For example, we can see the emotions that cross our lover’s face, or the passing moment of fear reflected in our children’s eyes, or the tenderness in the look a friend gives us. That is bringing our “seeing” to a deeper level, where we not only see with our eyes, but our intuition and mind join in. That is when we are able to visually perceive.
What do we convey when we say to someone, “I see what you mean.” It implies that I understand what you mean...that I am not merely observing, but I am absorbing your thoughts and words so that I understand them on a more thorough, deeper level. When seeing architecture, a similar understanding occurs. More than 80% of the information coming to us from our five senses is from vision. We can look at architecture, we can observe the design of a building, but our experience of architecture is what fills our senses, allowing us to truly envision and visually perceive.
As architects, we dream ideas, and form visions. We generate creative thoughts to transform into reality. Architects take the ethereal and make it tangible by summoning the creativity to see deeper than the surface. As visitors to that architecture we can be moved by its beauty, because to experience architecture in its truest most profound sense is to be transported emotionally.
By many, that has been referred to as an “aha” moment. It is a moment of sudden realization, insight, recognition, inspiration, or comprehension. It is as if we experience a life-clarifying moment, where life’s mysterious veil is pulled back. Momentary divine clarity pierces that veil of confusion and uncertainty, where for just a moment; the mysterious seems clear and our perception altered.We may first just see it, observe it, but if we allow the architecture to enter our consciousness, a deeper and more profound perception awakens.
Similarly, vision can also be the mental picture or hope that we have for our own lives. How do you see the next chapter in your life? What will be your goals and dreams? For many, a vision board helps to put those goals and aspirations into imagery. I am a firm believer that our minds, and our vision, play a powerful role in our success and joy.
With this year winding down, it seems like a pivotal moment to re-examine our vision, to really see ourselves at our deepest level. It grants us time to reflect, and to contemplate what our individual vision is for next year. Do you want to change the parts in your life that are not bringing you happiness? Have you outgrown a job, a home? Has the purpose or meaning that once defined your life, left the building?
I encourage you this year to awaken all of your senses. But don’t just see; rather, have a vision. Visualize your home, your surroundings, your interests, your desires. Visualize your finest life, and make it something beautiful.
Below are some architectural photos that go beyond just seeing, as they offer profound understanding and visual perception.
The architectural repetition and pattern are gracefully extended in the reflecting flood waters.
The ancient and modern coexisting side by side.
The European hillside village atop the bridge feels momentary and weightless in contrast to the heavy formidable massing of the bridge that is anchored deep into the valley below.
The juxtaposition and similarity of the boats and homes, their colors and random placement, reflects how entwined the acts of living and fishing are in this coastal village.
The exquisite fine detailing is striking against the heavy, solid massing of the rising column.