The “Aspirational Place” is in a category of its own. It is a type of place, not always present in projects. Its visibility from afar is just as critical as the experience of arriving at it.
Seeing “there” and getting “there” thus enter into a mutually reinforcing circularity, where desire and fulfillment transform and refine the architectural experience. The inner reward of getting “there” is the unrestrained expansion of the self into the horizon. The Aspirational Place, a special place within a larger place, is often, but not always, metaphorically and physically high up: its preciousness legitimates the longing for it. It is invariably remote and perceived as unattainable. It is a particular destination within space that viewers desire to get to. The building section, typically an analytical design tool to check clearances and meet technical requirements, thus becomes a poetic device to stage this choreographed finish line. By providing a raised point of view, it grants access to a broader perspective on things, allowing viewers to situate themselves beyond the site and to live simultaneously in both a part of their environment and the environment as a whole. The gravitational force of the Aspirational Place draws users up to make them become part of the architecture while projecting their sensibility outside of those architectural limits. The sequence of detecting the point of arrival, anticipating reaching it, and achieving that goal is made compelling and necessary by the spectacle of it all.
That space is hierarchical is a central realization superseding the modernist grid where place is reduced to dots on faceless coordinates. Aspiration is a word stacked with layers of subjective dreams. It simply acknowledges that humans inhabit more than clinical containers with clearances to perform biological functions. They do operate in an environment that includes the objective and the personal. With this realization, making architecture requires conscious sequencing to meet this psychological brief, absent in the client/patron’s programmatic requirements. Subliminally, it is the invisible magnet making the viewer want to go back to it, without having a clear explanation about it. French philosopher Gaston Bachelard reminded the readership that space carries poetics, and that much of that is brought in by the users. Spaces are mute if taken out of the flow of human experience. With such detached stance, walls are dividers instead of shielding unique content. The rational suppresses the poetic. And the loss is entirely ours.