Architecture and Empathy
Tuesday April 21, 2015 @ 13:00
Location: Auditorio Kino K-13 (Kanavakatu 12, Helsinki)
Free entrance!

13:30 Juhani Pallasmaa
Empathic Imagination: An Introduction to the Subject
14:00 Harry Mallgrave
Enculturation, Sociability, and the Built Environment
14:45 Sarah Robinson
Second Skin: How Architecture Touches Us
15:30 Short Break
Wine and Conversation
16:00 Vittorio Gallese
Architectural Space ‘from within’: The Body, Space and the Brain
16:45 Questions and Answers with the speakers
17:30 Closing

How do architecture and design touch us? How do our behaviour and emotions influence, and how are they reflected in, architecture, design and art?

In 1991, Professor Vittorio Gallese, from the University of Parma, was one of a team of four Italian researchers who made a discovery that shook the world. The team discovered a specialised nerve cell called a mirror neuron, which provides humans with the capacity to feel empathy and interpret the intentions of other people, and the ability to express themselves through language. Mirror neurons allow humans to empathise with the situation of another person. It has been said that mirror neurons are the most important discovery since DNA.

Mirror neurons mimic the behaviour of others and even the physical phenomena around us, and their job is to communicate what other people or animals are doing and what that feels like. Take, for example, the fear that we feel when we see someone swaying dangerously on the ridge of a roof. We may even unconsciously try to seek to balance ourselves using our own bodies.

This discovery opens up exciting windows into human behaviour and the human psyche, and helps in understanding emotions and moods, for example, in architecture and art. Mirror neurons also help us to anticipate the actions of others, not just through sight but also through hearing. The mirror neuron has been an important factor in human evolution, as it has made it easier for people to interact socially and to survive through difficult circumstances together.

How can we use the emotions and information we receive through mirror neurons when, for example, designing a building or a city? Understanding how mirror neurons work can help us build a better and more comfortable environment for ourselves.

This event is the third in a series celebrating Tapio Wirkkala ́s 100th birthday in 2015. The first 50 entrants will receive a copy of the 2014 event publication, Architecture and Atmosphere courtesy of the Tapio Wirkkala-Rut Bryk Foundation.

Organised by:
Asko Foundation / Alvar Aalto Academy / Tapio Wirkkala-Rut Bryk Foundation