Platonic Forms: A conceptual idea


Platonic forms

With concept submission next week I am forced to begin focusing the reading I have been doing into a concise direction for the project. Through comments from tutors and through reading on the history of gyms I have been looking at how gyms have been and should be again places for both the body and the mind. I was originally hesitant to approach it this way as I was looking to focus on creating a pure critique of the gym through exaggerating the mentality of the spaces. But I think that by introducing an element at the core of the gym that could be about provoking the mind it may give the project more depth and provide a strong juxtaposition between the different elements and areas of the gym.

An interesting direction that the project has started to take is through idea of the perfect form. Platos theory of forms talks about the notion that material forms that we can see are all just an abstraction of a singular “true” form that exists in an aspatial (transcendent to space) and atemporal (transcendent to time) place. This place is typically considered to be the mind. Essentially what this means is that the true, ideal, or perfect form of something exists only ever in the minds eye. Any attempt to recreate the form in reality will only ever result in an imperfect interpretation of the original.

An example being the perfect circle: In our minds we know what the perfect circle should be; equal diameter all around and an unwavering line. But in reality, any attempt, even by the most precision machinery will always produce an imperfect circle. This is purely due to the fact that we live in a material world, full of atoms and molecules, imperfection is inevitable.

Kepler solar system

Kepler solar system, made from pure forms

This brings me to the concept submission.. The idea of narcissism in gyms and the self perpetuating obsession with self image is a result of the pursuit of an ideal physique, the pursuit of an ideal form; of perfection. But the ideal form is folly; it is unattainable in reality. In a more real sense this is evident in the use of photoshoping models, plastic surgery, etc.. Commercial media has created an image in the everyday consumer of what the perfect body is, now all thats left is to recreate that image!

For this reason the gym areas could continue to be a critique on gym culture in that they are essentially hamster wheels.   But, set within this machine for the body is where the true perfect form can be found: in the mind. This dichotomy of the body and mind is interesting as the mind is a lucid entity that sits within a complex machine. This is how it is for humans, and also how it could be represented within the gym. This would result in an area at the centre of the gym for activities of the mind. Maybe meditation, or something.. not sure yet.

So… therefor this would create a building that would hope to explore the gym through the notion of the body / mind dichotomy. This is due to the fact that the attainment of a sound body is pointless without the foundation of a sound mind. The traditional gym areas would explore the physical nature of the body, ie. sexuality, exhibitionism, beauty, vanity, whilst the areas that would facilitate the nourishing of the mind at the core of the gym would explore the abstract and lucid nature of the mind / soul.

These two conceptual ideas would inform the architecture of their respective areas, creating a common yet juxtaposing thread that will run through the building.
Descartes body / mind dichotomy

Descartes body / mind dichotomy


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