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Instead of designing to erase the impact of the contingent, architecture should accommodate it. Architects must consider not just the built form but also how it might be touched by its inhabitants and surroundings. The construction of atmosphere may be thoughtfully guided, but its ongoing generation is ultimately beyond the control of humanity. The challenge is to design architecture with the slack to change and grow as its atmosphere develops. Architecture in its original form is the design of shelter. Spaces that discourage human interaction, which set themselves above the touch of their inhabitants, are fighting a losing battle against practicality. At their best, they manage to stave off the inevitable for a time, and even this is often at the cost of function. Rather than competing with the elements, with occupants, and with time, architecture can and should adapt to work with these factors. 


Accruing Atmosphere  ·  Research




Justin Miller


Thesis Essay


Auburn University  ·  ARCH 5991

Full Text

Thesis Book Award


Essay on Peter Zumthor’s attitude towards light and graphite rendering of Therme Vals. Both drafted on arches 140 hot press, 22.5”x 30”.

Tactile Patination


Conscientious material selection, lighting strategies, building orientation, and awareness of the surrounding atmosphere and site conditions are opportunities that all architects have at their disposal. Materials that have the potential to evolve with time and transcend their original intent can be intentionally selected. Their tactful inclusion and integration into a project, considering their proximity with other surfaces, can enable a structure to age gracefully and develop a rich atmosphere. The above drawings were produced in my first year of architecture school. They consist of an essay on Peter Zumthor's attitude towards light and a graphite rendering of Therme Vals in Switzerland. 

Illumination Studies


The built work of Zumthor and Alvar Aalto and writings of Steven Holl and Juhani Pallasmaa informed my initial thesis ideas. The following research attempts to analyze some of the ingredients of atmosphere over which designers have influence; namely, light and material. A series of studies were conducted exploring each. The first study examines the objectification of light. A series of basswood models were constructed, loosely based on the renderings for lighting conditions in Barozzi Veiga’s unbuilt Neanderthal Museum in Piloña, Spain. The goal of these models was to analyze the manner in which light enters a space and explore its recognizable impact on atmosphere.