The phrase “a silence is worth a thousand words” has always made me think. How can something as imperceptible as silence can be so loaded with meaning? A thousand words!, and all of them lose value or are annulled by just one, deep silence.
The reason is simple: Although silence is the absence of any sound, it is not imperceptible; on the contrary, it is precisely this absence that gives greatness to it, which ends up exposing it.
In our lives, silence can have many connotations. We can find bad silences, like those that cause us uncertainty and doubt; but there are also good silences, like the ones that teach us that we do not need words, than words could even tarnish the perfection of the moment.
And just as in music, there are silences that result in pauses, the ones we crave when our daily life is starting to go too fast, when our lives consume us, nullifying our thoughts and desires; when, without realizing it, we start going with the flow; in those moments, a pause, a silence, becomes necessary.
These good silences can be brought together in one word: peace.
In architecture we can also find such peace. There are places that allow us to sharpen our senses, to the point of erasing the words of our lips, because the simplest sound could hinder or even damage such undeniable perfection.
A while ago, I wrote about the excess of words to explain architecture (which should be able to explain itself), but this goes even further. I am referring to special buildings, with a particular gift that not all have. The ones that are able to produce in us a feeling similar to full happiness through the art of suggestion.
In this type of buildings, silence is the protagonist and it actively interacts with our perception and imagination, creating innumerable opportunities for sensory experiences. Thus, the building acquires multiple meanings, as each visitor or resident decides to interact and connect with it.
This is an architecture that suggests rather than imposing, removing any explicit language and making the art of evoking a fundamental part of its essence.
Foucault said in his “the thought from outside“, that “through the annihilation of language somehow comes the manifestation of the indeterminate“. It is perhaps the indeterminate, the something that we are unable to define with words, which leads a building to reach a higher level on the scale of greatness.
I do not think there is a formula for the creation of such “art work” but if we look at the examples of architecture of silence that have been created by great master architects like Louis Kahn,
The perfect combination of placement, proportion and soul…