Qualia – A Modern Vision Beyond Perception

Early on in the process, Peter Rose Architecture + Interiors approached our client to name the house we were designing. We have found that by naming houses that they develop a personality. In this sense, it also a tangible way that a homeowner can participate directly in the design process by positioning the view to the house for all involved in its design. To our surprise, he came back with the name “Qualia.” We all secretly scrambled to our dictionaries to review the “word of the day.” Upon reflection, the term “qualia” refers to the experience of the sensory world through all five senses subjectively or more simply ‘the quality of the experience of the viewer’.

 

           The unique shape of the site influenced the double winged form of the main building while pushing the prime living space out towards the ocean.

Once we had a chance to ruminate on this idea, it made us think that the quality of the experience is not only derived through form but also texture and materiality. The site itself is a fantastic waterfront site. The reflectivity of the ocean plays on the rich patterning of the soffits and further animates the spaces through large floor to ceiling windows. The form is derived largely as a response the unique shape of the site in that the two main wings slip in opposite directions to internally isolate the garage to the front autocourt, while pushing the prime living space out towards the ocean. This allows us to take advantage of the views to the front but also the unfolding of the bay to the side of the house.

 

              The varying texture of the stone work contributes to the tangible appreciation of the experience.

While form informs the experience of nature and the sublime horizon, so material forms the immediate tangible effects of qualia.  Louis Kahn famously once wrote, “Even a brick wants to be something.” It is in this vein that we have looked at the materials for this house and how it can play in the fulfillment and enjoyment of the subjective experience. For instance throughout the house we have looked at the stone work and how the texture of the stone plays into the experience. Stone, typically, is rough, robust and strong. However, if we play with the texture, it can take on many different complexities. Sand blasted smooth stone can feel smooth but provide texture for grip. Honed stone is smooth with depth and reflectivity that plays with light experience and expanse.

 

The Qualia ultimately hopes to imprint beauty, in its great range of diversity, to fulfill and influence the experience of the house and its landscape.

 

We intend to use all these manipulations to build a tangible experience to nurture both the viewer and the viewed and ensure that the experience of being in this place engages the nuance of the senses. In the end we look to imprint beauty, in its great range of diversity, to fulfill and influence the experience of the house and its landscape.