The Memory in Bodily and Architectural Making: Reflections from Embodied Cognitive Science

Andrea Jelic, Aleksandar Stanicic

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Following a recent experiential and embodied turn in architectural discourse, a new field of research inspired by embodied cognitive science has started illuminating brain and bodily mechanisms behind architecture’s ability to affect our perception, memory, and imagination—and in extension, how architects embrace the conditions of human embodiment to create meaningful environments.
Accordingly, this growing body of knowledge can offer new insights on why and how the design strategy behind ‘affective architecture’—i.e., invoking in the visitor intense emotional and bodily experiences through particular spatial scenarios and atmospheres—is effective in making meaningful and memorable places.
Starting from the perspective of the enactive-embodied approach to cognition and the understanding of architectural experience as originating in the pre-reflective architecture-body communication, we propose that the fundamental pre-condition of memory- and meaning-making in memorial architecture resides in the embodied spatial experiences.
The aim of this chapter is threefold. First, to sketch from the enactive cognition perspective the brain-body mechanisms underpinning human interaction with space, with a particular emphasis on the role of affect and affordances in the experience of architecture and creation of memories. Second, to provide guidelines for thinking about memorial spaces and architectural heritage as intrinsically connected to the sense of individual and social self through our embodied responsiveness to architectural cues and spatial affordances, where the latter are understood as materialization of the sociocultural patterns, practices, and meanings. Thirdly, to underline the importance of considering the politics of affect and embodiment in architectural design, and hence the architects’ role and limits in creating affective heritage. Accordingly, we argue for thinking about the embodied experience of architecture as an open-ended playground, whose power of triggering emotional responses is both a source of understanding the scripted, designed narrative as well as a place for reinvention and necessary flexibility of heritage architecture in the fast-changing times.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffective Architectures : More-Than-Representational Geographies of Heritage
EditorsJacque Micieli-Voutsinas, Angela Person M.
Number of pages17
Publication date21 Sep 2020
Edition1. udgave
ISBN (Print)9780367152116
ISBN (Electronic)9780429055737
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2020


  • pre-reflective architectural experience
  • enactive cognition
  • affective heritage
  • memorial spaces
  • politics of atmospheres

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The Memory in Bodily and Architectural Making: Reflections from Embodied Cognitive Science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this