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Soaking Sensual Nakedness: Haptic Bathhouse Explorations
Forsell, Mari Jonel
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How can architecture stimulate an increased haptic experience? People with sight lack the everyday immediacy of sensory awareness as compared with people with significant sight impairment. When sight is lost, the mind compensates by heightening the other senses for receiving information. In particular, people who are sight impaired depend on their "somesthesis," or skin sense, for information. In contrast, people who are sighted do not depend on somesthesis to accomplish everyday tasks. Many may go through an entire day without considering their sense of touch. If awareness exists, it is likely through discomfort such as that first barefooted encounter on ice cold tile first thing in the morning or grabbing a burning steering wheel after it baked all day in the hot summer sun. Heschong writes "If sight allows for a three-dimensional world, then each other sense contributes at least one, if not more, additional dimensions." (Heschong, p. 28-29) The sighted rely so heavily on the visual sense for information. They miss many simple tactile encounters along with all their contiguous sensational experiences, constricting the development of these additional dimensions, thus significantly diminishing the depth and complexity of their existence. This is an exploration of touch, a bathhouse, just south of Dupont Circle in the urban fabric of Washington DC. Experiencing a place where the entire body can intimately converge with a building saturated with tactile opportunities, the surprise of stimulating skin-to-surface encounters will remind us of our wonderful somatosensation. How we feel during these sensual unions will add vividness to our lives and a desire to again search for more tactile stimuli feeding our rejuvenated mindfulness.
- Masters Theses