Making architecture a more touching experience

11 May 2018

Anthony Brand would like our architectural encounters to be more meaningful. The thirty-three year-old believes that if we prioritised how buildings made us feel instead of how they look, we could create more touching architectural experiences.

Today he will receive his Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture at the University of Auckland’s Autumn Graduation ceremony.  

Anthony’s doctoral thesis entitled Touching Architecture: a felt-phenomenology of affective atmospheres and embodied encounters, was born from a growing concern for the recent trend within architectural practices to prioritise how a space looks over how it feels.

His research advances a design approach that recognises the emotional nature of embodied perception and all the ways in which we touch – and are touched – by our surroundings.

His comprehensive work received the Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis, and was shortlisted for the Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis in 2017.

Born in the UK, Anthony completed his Bachelor of Architecture and Diploma of Architecture at the University of Nottingham, before accompanying his kiwi girlfriend, Maria - now his wife - “home” to New Zealand in 2009.

Anthony arrived in the middle of the global financial crisis and work was in short supply so he volunteered labouring for one of Habitat for Humanity’s housing projects in Otara before joining the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning as a doctoral candidate.

“It was invaluable on-site experience,” he says. “Few architectural students get to wield angle-grinders.”

While studying he started teaching studio classes, and now supervises masters students. Since completing his doctorate, Anthony found employment at Rowe Baetens Architecture, where he is currently working towards his professional registration.

“We do not perceive through eyes alone but through a synaesthetic medley of memories, emotions and sensations working in concert in, with, and through the body: what matters is the feeling we have of something, someone or somewhere,” says Anthony.

“An architect that designs without this understanding may create structures which stand up against the weather but fail to enhance our lives.”

Media queries to:
Miranda Playfair
Media Relations Adviser
Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries
The University of Auckland
Phone: +64 21 063 8393