This article introduces the term Neue Sinnlichkeit (New Sensuousness) to describe a growing movement within architectural discourse from the mid-1980s until today. Aimed at creating buildings that appeal to a full sensory and bodily perception, i.e., architecture that can be smelled, tasted, heard, and felt as much as seen, Neue Sinnlichkeit is, in many ways, the sensuous counterpart to the rational Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). This sense-oriented movement made its breakthrough with the baths in Vals, Switzerland (1996), designed by Peter Zumthor. A sense-oriented reading of the baths was disseminated and popularized in a book, already published by the Architectural Association before the building’s completion. In addition to analyzing Zumthor’s work and writings and the Architectural Association’s role in fostering the new movement, the article scrutinizes works and writings by the academic, teacher, and architect Miroslav Šik (“Analoge Architektur,” 1987) and the Finnish architect and writer Juhani Pallasmaa (“An Architecture of the Seven Senses,” 1994). Eventually, the appeal to the senses matured into anti-intellectualism. The praise of materiality, sensuousness, emotions, and intuition worked against a discerning and critical beholder. Statements such as Pallasmaa’s “architecture is communication from the body of the architect directly to the body of the inhabitant” make clear that architecture is meant to be felt and not questioned. Neue Sinnlichkeit thus reveals itself to be another version of postcriticality, triggering reflexes, not reflection.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 118-137
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.