The Numinous in Architecture

The term Numinous in Architecture refers to the Architect creating a building/space/void that gives the individual visiting the building, a sense of the divine, a sense that the buildings construction could have been guided by a divine spirit or force.


A numinous building must challenge the bounds of our understanding by dynamic or mathematical greatness


This can be broken down further by analyzing some of the elements in a building that define Numinous traits


Impossibility - Technical genius that is hard to comprehend, almost beyond human capability, using scale, human effort, impossibility of construction, examples being the Pyramids of Giza, Brunelleschi's Dome in Florence


Scale - This can be demonstrated in two forms, the sheer size of a building or space or the intimacy and humble features of some hidden building structure. A small space can also comfort and nurture so they experience numen or sublime, using access to daylight, views of nature, comfort in the form of seating, richness of material, correct proportions




Suggestions of Infinity - This can be manipulated through the use of detail and lighting, more specifically within religious buildings, stained glass windows, marble fonts, intricate carvings add to the illusion of scale and size. This can also be seen in grand civic buildings, using rich colours, luxurious materials and attention to junctions, how materials join when they meet can combine to achieve a similar effect.


Light - Light in the design of a building can transform it in many ways, Light exalts us while darkness humbles and calms, It can be seen in sunlight through a forest clearing, dappled light on a pools surface, the opaqueness of fog.

Light in buildings can be represented by light pouring through windows, dappled light using screens, always using contrasts between light and dark




© 2017 Alec Boreham