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Between Silence and Light

Architecture is a meeting place between the measurable and the unmeasurable. The art of design is not only rooted in the aesthetic form, but in the soul of the work. In Phenomena and Idea, Stephen Holl once wrote, ” The thinking-making couple of architecture occurs in silence. Afterward, these “thoughts” are communicated in the silence of phenomenal experiences. We hear the “music” of architecture as we move through spaces while arcs of sunlight beam white light and shadow.” Undoubtedly, Holl adopted this concept from its author, Louis I. Kahn.
Unquestionably, I am referring to “Silence and Light”, a concept created and nurtured by Khan, and one that dominated the later half of his work. Kahn had chosen the word Silence to define the unmeasurable or that which has not yet come to be. According to Khan, the unmeasurable is the force that propels the creative spirit toward the measurable, to the Light.When the inspired has reached that which is, that which known, he has reached the Light.
Eloquently expressing the architect’s passion for design, Khan wrote “Inspiration is the of feeling at the beginning at the threshold where Silence and Light meet. Silence, the unmeasurable, desire to be. Desire to express, the source of new need, meets Light, the measurable, giver of all presence, by will, by law, the measure of thing already made, at a threshold which is inspiration, the sanctuary of art, the treasury of shadow.” Khan believed that in order for architectural theory to be credible, it had to be constructed. Thirty years ago, Khan began one of his most successful executions of the Silence and Light with the Library at Phillips Exeter Academy.
This New Hampshire landmark physically illustrates and ideologically embodies many of Khan’s concepts and incorporates many of his beliefs, synthesizing them into a tight little package with a powerful punch. The subtleties of materiality coupled with multiple plays of light truly e…

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