Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

Finding nirvana in the bosom of the mountain spirit

It is our second visit to Korea, less than two years after the first, and my initial (favourable) impressions of the country have been confirmed on more than one occasion already. I have been invited here by a colleague to present a paper at a conference on science fiction, but because we wanted to investigate the area of the country where some of the oldest Korean cultural artefacts are to be found, our first destination here was the famed city of Gyeongju, two hours by rapid train from Seoul.

I used the word “famed” deliberately, given the city’s reputation as an “open-air museum” — walking through the city one comes upon many huge mounds of earth that just happen to be the ancient burial sites, or underground burial chambers, of Korean royalty dating back more than 10 centuries. One gets a first taste of Eastern, specifically Korean, “spirituality” when wandering through the grounds of Anapji (Wild Goose/Duck) Pond, where the royal residence known as Eastern Palace, was built during the reign of King Munmu in 647 BCE as a “pleasure garden”. The way that the buildings, the vegetation and the “pond” nestle in one another’s embrace adumbrated the more all-embracing sense of spiritual oneness that awaited us.

Our visit to the Gyeongju Cultural Museum reinforced this feeling as we walked from one hall to another, overawed by the rich cultural history of the Korean people. One often reads about the Roman Empire that lasted for centuries, but I’ll bet few westerners know about the “golden” Silla kingdom on Korean soil that lasted almost a 1000 years (from 57 BCE to well into the 10th century CE), with Gyeongju being its capital city continuously for most of that time. The gold artefacts discovered in the royal burial chamber in Gyeongju match the splendour of those found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen.

If exploring Gyeongju on foot allows one to imbibe the distinctive spirit of this corner of Oriental culture to a certain degree, it proved to be but a pale version of what awaited us when we ascended Mount Namsan, a few kilometres outside the city, yesterday. To be frank, because I have never been a conventionally religious person — by which I mean that “organised” religion, with its multiple ways of manipulating gullible people’s sense of guilt, and so on, has always put me off — I used to be sceptical of claims regarding a tangible sense of “spirituality” (unless the feeling of “oneness with nature” that I always experience when climbing up the rocks of my favourite mountain counts as such).

I was sceptical until I visited the great churches of Europe, that is; and now, a mountainous region on the Korean peninsula that is truly suffused with what one can only describe as a pervasive sense of spirituality. But there is a difference between these two experiences, phenomenologically speaking. Upon entering a Gothic church like St Vitus cathedral in Prague, one’s “spirit” is directed upwards, towards what medieval Christianity believed to be the direction of heaven, simultaneously uplifting one’s being. This is significant, because for Christianity what matters is the immortal soul, which is here virtually synonymous with spirit, and whose “home” is located in an otherworldly realm.

This axiological (value-) prioritisation of the soul above the body in the spatial design of the cathedral — its characteristic “distribution of the sensible” — explains the fact that, from the moment of entering such a Gothic cathedral, your gaze is directed upwards along the verticals to the vault, high overhead. One’s spirit soars, metaphorically speaking, and one experiences it almost tangibly in those hallowed spaces. Interestingly, the flipside of this is the countervailing awareness of what one might call “demonic” forces surrounding these churches, attributable, perhaps, to the ever-present array of gargoyles hovering above one on the building’s exterior.

The experience of spirituality is very different in the Eastern spaces we have been exploring these last few days, however. Mount Namsan, with its beautiful rocks and forests, breathes spirituality, not least because of the many Buddhist shrines, statues and rock engravings dotted all over it. One moment you would be climbing up a steep slope to where the trail vanishes on a ridge, and the next you would gasp with astonished surprise when you cross the ridge and come face to face with a seated Buddha smiling benevolently at you despite its stony, centuries-old features (in most cases about 1400 years old), with one hand in a giving gesture and the other lifted reassuringly.

But primarily it is the mountain spaces that embrace you with a welcoming Gaian gesture, drawing you close to them without any feeling of being suffocated. It is not difficult to understand why this particular mountain attracted Buddhist adherents, inviting them to adorn nature with images of the Buddha, which they believed was ubiquitous throughout nature, anyway. While the Christian cathedrals elevate the spirit, infusing it with a feeling of being ethereal, these spaces do not propel the spirit “heavenwards”, as it were; instead, it is as if “spirituality” — not spirit — is diffused throughout the mountain landscape: the streams, rocks, trees and even the human visitors to this place of refuge are imbued with it. It is this-worldly, not otherworldly like the spirituality of Christian spaces.

On our way down from the peak we came upon something that draws the awareness of pervasive spirituality together like a beautiful, intricate knot in a tapestry. At first hidden by a thick curtain of leaves, it suddenly emerges into one’s field of vision like an unexpected, unwelcome visitor who has unwittingly spoilt one’s daytime reverie — a feeling that is soon dissipated, however. It is a modest little structure — two houses at right angles to each other, overlooking the undulating, cascading waves of leaves and trees below them. A hermitage, where a wrinkled old lady offered us green tea and gestured into one of the two houses that turned out to be a Buddhist temple, resplendent with a golden Buddha figure and oriental paintings adorning its walls.

Drinking our tea and looking out towards the sea of green below us, my partner remarked that she could happily spend the rest of her life there, in the bosom of the mountain spirit, with ne’er a thought of the everyday worries, chores and irritations that punctuate an ordinary working day back home. I could not agree more.

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    • Richard

      I have often wondered why it is that one can so much more easily embrace Nature (I think it deserves a capital “N”) when it is cultivated and has its threats removed. Thinking back on trips to various African locations, it is much more difficult to see “spirituality” in these rough and primitive landscapes. Freud (I think I am correct in this) maintained that civilisation exists to protect us from Nature, which otherwise threatens at all times to overwhelm us. In other words, cultivated Nature is like a snake with its venom removed. European cathedrals are in their way artistic interpretations of nature, with their vaulted ceilings nothing so much as trees leaning towards one another in a forest. The common theme in our experience of spirituality is therefore our interaction with nature, rather than simply being passive observers of untouched reality. In this way, do we not simply interact with ourselves, and again attempt to peer into our own souls. Leaves become green paint, and tree-trunks become pillars. Objectivity would seem to be unattainable.

    • Maria

      Of all Eastern cultures I have always found Korea the most interesting. The people are friendly and their cultural history is, as pointed out, impressive, to say the least. The gigantic bell at the cultural museum in Gyeongju amazed me with its sheer size and weight – imagine what techniques they already knew when that was cast centuries ago! And then, of course, anyone with a modicum ofreceptivity for mystical presences only has to ascend Mt Namsan to experience nirvana firts-hand.

    • Baz

      Spend a few days in the bush , naked. You will soon find the nirvana within yourself.
      An experience no education or money can buy.

    • P.Ndzeleni AT223 S210076887

      Part 1

      French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari, in their book “A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia”, distinguish between two different spaces…a smooth and striated space. A smooth space is one which is constantly changing therefore uncontrolled, nomadic, and has no fixed point of reference. A striated space, in contrast, is still and controlled in its nature. It has an element(s) that remain(s) the same…a point of reference. Another distinction between these two spaces is directionality. Striated space often leads or directs one or has defined paths which lead to the main element…it has hierarchy. Smooth space, however, suggests destination but leave you with room to decide on your journey there. Twists and turns in smooth spaces make one experience the space as a whole as there’s no hierarchy. These two spaces are never in their purest form and one may be the result of the progress of the other.
      I will discuss the two spaces by using examples in hope to further show my understanding. It is, however, unfortunate that I cannot upload sketches to reinforce my discussion.
      The Boardwalk, in Port Elizabeth, is an example of a smooth space where as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) South Campus plaza (in front of the main library) is an example of striated space.

    • P.Ndzeleni AT223 S210076887

      Part 2

      The Boardwalk has multiple entrances which offer one different experiences on the way to a destination. No matter which way one takes, all are next to candy stores, boutiques, restaurants… and people enjoying themselves in the vibrant atmosphere. The series of buildings are built around a pond which is often used for spectacular water shows. The pond also brings a sense of nature into the spaces connected to it by a board walk. The main entrance branches off Marine Drive. One is welcomed by palms trees lined on either side of a paved path leading to the main gate house. The gate house is designed, along with the rest of the complex, in a theme fashion of “building as a sign” discussed in detail in the book “Learning from Las Vegas” by Venture, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. Once in inside, one experiences a sense of enclosure which is sensitive to human scale and adds to ease and comfort. The complex has an enclave nature to it. The activities are not zoned therefore wherever you are, there is at least one food store, boutique or restaurant nearby.

    • P.Ndzeleni AT223 S210076887

      Part 3

      The NMMU South Campus plaza, edged by the main library on the west, is more of a striated space. There is a prominent sense of directionality as students mostly use this space as an “inbetween” space while moving from one building to another. There is also a pond, now waterless unless raining, which offers seating (built up edges) during lunch time, the time when there is a substantial number of students seating around this area provided the weather is favourable. The placement of the pond dictates the movement of the user of the space. Most people tend to walk between the pond and the library building as the space in between is slightly narrow than that on the other side of the pond (which is vast). The large upside-down-stepped-pyramid-like library building makes one feel out of place…vulnerable…lost…even more so the further one moves away from it. Its Brutalist nature further evokes these feelings. A number of planters are placed in the space, in an effort to bring some sense of nature, but these do nothing to evoke that sense and the plaza remains a vast space with no sense of human scale nor that vibrant atmosphere felt at the boardwalk.
      I can, therefore, conclude that from the discussion above, the Boardwalk has a space that evokes similar senses to that of the author’s visit to Korea, smooth space in this case but on a micro scale.

    • Willem Steytler AT223 (213260018)

      In the world we live in no space would be fully smooth or striated. It is always a mixture of the two with either prevailing.

      As was discussed in class, Mount Namsan is the perfect combination of striated- and smooth space. The smoothness of the space, I would imagine, is induced by the forests and vegetation on the mountain being so homogenous in nature. As an idiosyncracy of any smooth space, the mountain will have a sense of disorder and chaos, with all spaces being qualitatively equal. On the other hand, however, the Buddhist shrines and statues present on the mountain, merging culture (religion) and nature, transforms the general mountain space into place. This form of hierarchy inevitably creates striated space. It can almost be compered to a dark space with moments of light coming through, where one tends to gravitate towards.

      The Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth is an example of a building where smooth space has the upperhand over striated space. The exhibition spaces, as a series of boxes, are designed to make one feel alienated and it makes the individual wonder around and feel lost in the space. There is no hierarchy or difference between the spaces. It is only upon entering one of the boxes that things start to become more tractable and one gets a sense of ergonomics and anthropometrics. An opposite to this type ofd museum would be the Louvre. The entrance lobby is the point of hierarchy and all the corridors end back up in the lobby.

    • Willem Steytler AT223 (213260018)

      In ancient times the Japanese made a ceremany out of the drinking of tea. They had these pavilions called tea houses where the ceremony took place. The small structures were constructed to incorporate qualities fo harmony, reverence, purity, and silence that are the essence of this ritual. Attempts were made to fuse the rich natural materials with the spiritual. Views are calculated and one sits bare- foot on the floor; resulting in an almost transcendental experience of solace in this Zen environment. This extremely smooth space is then counteracted with the tradition of the ceremony where the tea master serves the guests, resulting in striation.
      An opposing environment to this would be Villa Rotonda by Palladio wich has a lot of thresholds an hierarchies set up by courtyards, verandas and double volumes. Its splendour, rational structural layout and it being on a point of hierarchy in the landscape implies striation.
      The NMMU South Campus is very striated with the main building, with its different levels of”class”, and the Library building staring at each other the kraal, an obviously rationalised gathering space. The way we face the front in class and the lecturers being the important elite in the university creates striated space.

      In conclusion I would say striation is necessary to keep order in society, but smooth space is something that shoud be strived for in religious architecture and spaces like art galleries.

    • Neil Honeycomb AT223 (213220482)

      1 of 2:

      “When man dwells, he is simultaneously located in space and exposed to certain environmental characters” (Norberg-Schulz, 1980). Norberg-Schulz explains humankind’s habit of categorising space in order to determine its existence as similarly to a child sitting in a hole dug at the beach illustrating the innate existential link humankind has developed in its relation to the physical environment.

      Deleuze and Guattari categorise this “assessment” of space into ‘smooth’ and striated spaces, where the sea and deserts are potential archetypes for the former. Here there is a “distribution of heterogeneity in free space” (Hubert, n.d.) with little to no hierarchal segregation where elements flow and harmonise organically as threads of felt do.

      This is in turn opposed by, for example, a city through its movement framework and built form which divide spaces into arrangement of activities that occur there. This can metaphorically be related to the inter-woven grid-iron strands of woven fabric, seemingly more controlled than strands present in a felt cloth. “Striation [thus] makes the measurable.” (Hubert, n.d.) There is therefore no perfectly striated space, and thus by quantifying ‘smooth’ spaces we effectively divide up infinite seas into latitudes and longitudes, clocking and navigating through these ‘smooth’ spaces based on a so-called cosmic striation (thus not a purely smooth space).

    • Neil Honeycomb AT223 (213220482)

      2 of 2:

      Professor B. Olivier provided an example of striated space, at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in October of this year, as a class organised in a traditionally linear fashion with all the seats facing toward the front of the room where the ‘presenter’ is situated. This was then compared to the same class, but with the seats arranged out of order around the room among which the presenter could freely move and interact with the ‘audience’. This, however, is evident of another form of striation, that of social ordering within society, or more particularly the social ordering of a ‘submissive’ class based on the hierarchal stand of the presenter as an invited guest or a knowledgeable lecturer.

      As can be seen, striation is determined by categorisation of phenomena, of which a lack of this ‘labelling’ produces a smooth order of space with a seemingly crystallographic balance. This grouping has thus become an innate necessity for humankind to “gain an existential foothold … to able to orientate himself” (Norberg-Schulz, 1980) and we have even made an attempt at ordering the cosmic disorder in our own effort to belong. To dwell.

    • http://yahoo Mpilo Blouw AT223 (213304538)

      Based on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari distinction between smooth space and striated space. I have come to convince myself on why these spaces are so different even though they seek a similar feeling which is meant to be felt by visitor or occupants of theses spaces.

      Western spaces come across as being more striated. Striated space is still and controlled in its nature. It has an element(s) that remain(s) the same…a point of reference. Striated space often leads or directs one or has defined paths which lead to the main element…it has hierarchy ( P. Ndzeleni). They more often imply how you meant to feel, look, move and behave in them. This sounds like the exact elements which the western cathedrals are based on which are; procession, light coming from above, the hierarchy and order of the church, in the plan and activities as well as every single thing about the western church. The building are made to remain the same for years and don’t allow changes to the way things are done.

    • http://yahoo Mpilo Blouw AT223 (213304538)

      Eastern space is smoother then the western. They find themselves as being part of the natural universe. Buildings and memorials nestled in nature signifying the notion of spaces within spaces and that as man we occupy space or define space in space. A smooth space is one which is constantly changing therefore uncontrolled, nomadic, and has no fixed point of reference. Smooth space, however, suggests destination but leave you with room to decide on your journey. The Twists and turns in smooth spaces make one experience the space unaware of what is coming and there is no hierarchy ( P. Ndzeleni). I consider nature as a living organism and therefore it goes through changes like all living things go through. Which brings me the thought that if you didn’t have go on a hike(journey) that will ask you to answer a few challenges on the way the feeling at the end wouldn’t have been the same.( if the journey is not known, planned or controlled)

    • Pieter Lübbe AT223 (213216701)

      Space can be defined as an infinite feel – a field with implied continuity, direction, use and potential.

      Space is not an abstraction, but has substance, as soon as it becomes defined through movement and/or a set of boundaries; and even before the arrival of man – by virtue of bays, rivers and so forth.

      The ability of being able to define space can be broken down to the categorization thereof into two components, namely striated- and smooth space. In a particular field of space, which can never be entirely striated or smooth, both striated and smooth spaces are present at all time, with either one being the dominant space.

      Striated spaces are those in which a strong sense of hierarchy is found. These spaces often have a forced directional movement pattern, and a hierarchical relation between the different elements which make up the space.

    • Pieter Lübbe AT223 (213216701)


      The approach towards the Norweigan Glacier Museum, designed by architect Sverre Fehn, is an example of striated space. The museum is situated in Fjaerland, Norway – a land carved out by glaciers and known for its remarkable high mountains and deep blue fjords.

      The idea behind Fehn’s design was strongly driven by context – hence the sharp, angled shapes, to mimic the jagged edges and formation of the mountains and glaciers in the area.

      By directing the visitor’s approach to the museum towards one of the mountains, Fehn succeeds in forcing movement into a linear directional pattern: A long entrance canopy leads the visitor towards a steep-rising stone staircase, which is also directed towards the mountain. This staircase creates the sense of ascending into the mountains of the Fjaerland.

      By using the mountain (i.e. contextual reference) as a hierarchical point in the concept of the design, and directing movement as a result thereof, a striated space is created in the approach towards the building.

      Smooth spaces often have a strong sense of disorder or chaos. These spaces are homogenic in nature and consequently, a nomadic feeling is enforced, causing the individual to lose track of time.

    • Pieter Lübbe AT223 (213216701)


      An example of smooth space can be found in the proposed design of a centralised city centre in Unaizah, Saudi Arabia, by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat.

      Encircled by a four-lane ring road, the site consists of an entirely pedestrianized ground level and an underground parking area. Variation will be offered in the centre as it will feature a shopping area, gold market, apartments and offices, all of which are surrounding the city’s centrally located mosque.

      The smoothness of the space between the ring road and the mosque is produced by the several transitions in the different visitors’ approach towards the mosque, and the variety of activities in-between – thereby creating a free roam movement pattern differing from person to person: The activities done, and route taken towards the mosque is not a specific, strictly laid out path of progression.

      There is no definite directional movement – it is free and spontaneous. A sense of disorder and chaos is found between the circular ring road and the centrally-placed mosque. A variation of different street widths, alleys, squares amplifies the smoothness of the space.

      Space has always been there – even before the arrival of man – and has just been refined over the years. Architects use the qualities or characteristics of both smooth and striated spaces in order to achieve the particular desired effect or experience.

    • Panayioti Ketzner (213223430)

      Finding nirvana in the bosom of the mountain spirit, Interesting how the emotion and mood one experiences a space or place in plays the most vital role in the way we, as humans, identify spaces and their phenomenological character.

      However when discussing smooth or striated space these different spaces are never pure alone as one always relates to the other in one way or another. One can clearly understand the concept of smooth vs striated space when looking at an urban city along the coastline. For example approaching a city like New York by boat along the sea will take you from being in a smooth space with little sense of direction while on the water but as you dock and leave the boat or vessel you will be placed among tall buildings and moments which form hierarchy and give you a sense of belonging and direction. A visual image of a city with skyscrapers along water’s edge will help one understand the example which is put forward here.

      A smooth space may sometimes even act like an uncomfortable space where one feels misplaced. Just as mentioned in the above article “one moment when you would be climbing up a steep slope to where the trail vanishes on a ridge”

    • Panayioti Ketzner (213223430)

      A striated space is one with thresholds, hierarchy and moments which draw you towards them Bert mentioned in in the article “you cross the ridge and come face to face with a seated Buddha smiling benevolently at you despite its stony, centuries-old features (in most cases about 1400 years old), with one hand in a giving gesture and the other lifted reassuringly. But primarily it is the mountain spaces that embrace you with a welcoming Gaian gesture, drawing you close to them without any feeling of being suffocated.”

      To conclude, the two spaces work hand in hand with one another in most cases with one being more dominant. This resulting in the way we, as humans experience different spaces and understand the character these different spaces look to create.

    • Chiposi Sinalo AT223 (212375547)

      Exploring Mount Namsan gives a sense of being nomadic where there is no direct implementation of orientation, and the irregularity of nature is prominent with pathways that allow for one to move at own pace. This type of environment lets one indulge in self spirituality; finding enlightenment in individuality which allows for a feeling of making own decision and in return suffering own consequences without affecting others.
      This atmosphere is a good description of a smooth space, where the environment is homogenous with equality in all directions. A space that gives a nomadic feeling is a good sign of smooth space.
      Another example of a smooth space could be a general hospital which is smooth in a sense that there is one dominant colour used which is usually white and covers all surfaces. There is a big similarity with all the components used as in similar corridors, doors and windows giving a sense of unison throughout the building. Although this space is very smooth in sense of unison there is also a large sense of striation through the orderliness of activities, signs imposing direction of flow and in some cases colour coordinated objects and activities, and not to forget the doctors in their white coats looking very knowledgeable and confident.
      Although a smooth space and striated space are defined separately, it is hard to describe the one without the other, and in reality there is always a combination of both with a dominance of one type of spacer from the other.

    • S.Matlanyane (s213231832)

      After reading both “Finding Nirvana” and “spaces of power and spaces of gentleness” I realized that even if we swapped their headings around, they would still be relevant. Both the cathedral and the palace at Versailles are symbols of power strongly reinforced by their multiple thresholds from common or public spaces to innermost chambers and holy of holies where access is limited. Not only are these spaces striated due to their functional needs, but they are also a direct reflection of the secretive and authoritative organizational structure of the bodies they house regardless of being religious or secular.

      On the contrary, it sounds like you can find Nirvana in Monet’s garden with everything treated with equal love and gentleness; bring you to a tranquil state which in turn enables emancipation of the mind, body and soul. South Africa’s freedom park is one of such a place with a strong essence of a smooth space in both symbolic terms and built architectural form. The park is a symbolic resting place of all fallen freedom fighters regardless of race and battle, realised with the aim of reconciliation. All symbolic meanings of the park are universal to South African’s indigenous believe systems. In addition the Voortrekker monument and the union buildings are part of the dialogue and experience of the Freedom Park, collectively taking part in the healing process.

      This I would then say is a step in the right direction towards secular and religious spaces of gentleness.

    • Gailyn Scott 213297086

      Part 1 of 2

      The sense of ‘spirituality’ has become memorable and a unique experience in particular spaces. As mentioned there is a different sense of ‘spirituality’ in the ‘city’ to that of nature.

      For example the Cologne Cathedral which stands 46m tall, with its slender soaring piers that extend unbrokenly from the floor to heavenly vaults. To even just looking at images of the cathedral the same over-powering sense of spirituality and the feeling of a ‘higher power’ can be felt, just like in St. Vitus cathedral.

      Then the different sense of spirituality, such as that of Mount Namson, could be experienced through Frank Lloyd Wright’s building, “Falling Water”. The building is situated in a mountain valley and is approached through a forest where the sun barely penetrates the thick foliage of the trees. You then wonder along narrow, winding paths until quite suddenly you see the light horizontal lines of the building among the vertical trunks and leaves of the trees. Through this experience and how the building relates organically to its environment, a friendly and intimate spirituality is felt.

    • Gailyn Scott 213297086

      Part 2 of 2

      These different spiritual feelings are influenced by the need of the space, the context and the creator. The sense and feeling of nature cannot be created though humans and their buildings. It is something that can only be felt within the natural environment, just like the unique overwhelming spiritual feeling of the cathedrals can only truly be felt within the actual buildings.

      And through these examples the true essence and impact of space and its context is further explored and understood.

    • T. Kolobe

      Everyday experience tells us that different actions need different environments to take place in a satisfactory way. As a consequence houses, locations, suburbs, beaches, towns and city centers consist of a multitude of particular places, either man-made or natural. The concrete things which constitude our given world are interrelated in complex and perhaps contradictory ways.

      Place making comprises of more intangible phenomena such as feeling, and the viewer’s perceptual and visceral response! Looking at the pyramids in Egypt, they set a particular orientation of man within the cosmic landscape. Therefore the environment naturally is a smooth space as man experience the dynamics of nature to their true beings. But if a forest of infrastructure could have been build in that vicinity, that phenomena could have been destroyed. A lesson I learn is that, space making requires through investigation to draw a conclusion in designing spaces that well integrate with the dynamics of nature, than to mimick nature and taking control over technology in design.

      The experience you had is astonishing, but I always wonder if people from the same environment really experience it the way people from the cities enjoy drops of water from the trees on their faces while venturing through the vegetation. Do they really enjoy the contrast of light and spots of sun rays through over head trees!

    • Clarissa Coetzee 213280477

      part 1 of 3

      The influential text “thousand plateaus” by Deleuze and Guatari begins to speak about smooth and striated space. The Smooth and the Striated’ introduces a conceptual pair of definitions in order to rethink space in terms of nomadic forces and sedentary captures. The difference between smooth and striated spaces is based on the manner in which movement and event take place. These spaces are never found in purist form but rather simultaneously exist as an amalgamation of one another with the dominant prevailing.

      Smooth space is characterizes by surroundings that are uncontrollable ,constantly changing, nomadic with no point of reference , lack of hierarchy and absence of boundaries in contrast Striated space is a space that is controlled in nature, has a point of reference, directs along a defined path towards an end destination and possesses hierarchy.

    • Clarissa Coetzee 213280477

      part 2

      Norberg Shultz identified a series of character archetypes namely Cosmic, Romantic and Classic .A smooth space possesses cosmic characteristics (strong sense of earth and sky and no identity of place but rather endless space) A perfect example of a predominantly smooth space would be the karoo landscape. This space evokes a sense of alienation, the never ending redundant terrain lacks hierarchy which inevitably induces wondering and directionless journey towards the unknown. However the Karoo landscape has become more striated over time through the accurate contouring of the geography, sampling of the various rock types, sediments and vegetation as well as the deciphering of the morphology. This has left nothing to the imagination it has become a striated game of explanation.

    • Clarissa Coetzee 213280477

      part 3 of 3

      A gothic cathedral is a prime example of striated space. The processions that take place within such a space are dictated by scripture and the ordinances of the church, the church benches are arranged in such a way that all seated occupants face the same way and there is a platform and focal point where the priest gives his service which creates a strong hierarchy and sense of order. There is a set destination – heaven and the scripture defines the path to this destination. The calculated gravity defying structure is vertically directional and is designed to make the occupant feel insignificant in the house of the Lord. However the striated characteristics imposed on the physical body develops a smooth space within the mind of the occupant. Thoughts of eternity, freedom and sole salvation uplift the occupant and decreases the sense of striation.
      As humans who fear the unknown, long for a sense of place , crave power, obsess over knowing and attempt to rationalize the irrational it is clear that striated dominates but to this I have no objections. However with most things in life a balance is essential and the need for smooth space is ongoing.

    • Nic McNaught AT223 (213406128)

      Japan is deeply rooted with a religious and cultural background, that has an empirical connection to worldly deities and the physical landscape with the two dominant religions being Shinto the oldest and Buddhism. Shinto is deeply rooted in Japans history where the devotees follow spirits that take the shape and form of physical natural landmarks such as the wind, trees and rivers. In this there is a major concern for what is seen, felt and experienced through our movements on earth. Once a person dies they pass on and become part of these spirits or Kami, they merge with nature. This in itself shows a deep routed connection the environment, from this stems a sense of oneness, living and working together with what we have around us bringing a certain sense of spirituality. Buddhism centralises the idea of Zen and meditation, which encompasses and environment embodying the pure essence of ones spirit in unity with the natural surroundings. These religions purely focus on spirituality as a closer connection to humans and experience deities through the physical realm. Whereas Christianity Contrasts this having a dream like ephemeral connection to a deity where the god is detached, with a man made sense of connection rather than focusing on nature. The idea of dying and passing onto another life with this realm being a passage into the next rather than a co- existence of beings and their surroundings.

    • Nic McNaught AT223 (213406128)

      Japanese culture, the historic culture without western influence brings a deeper respect and appreciation for the environment evoking a sense of a humanised connection rather than in a closed of spiritual sanctuary such as a church making one feel small and insignificant to their deity.

    • cammy cochrane AT223 (213201283)

      The above article can be discussed in terms of what Deleuze and Guattari categorize as striated and smooth space.
      Smooth space can be argued as a continuous interconnection between land, horizon and sky. This space is the domain of nomads where the concept of placelessness is evident in the lack of a concrete manifestation of man’s dwellings. Thus man becomes a wanderer of the world, never finding the sense of belonging to a particular place ultimately the lack of man’s own identity in nature.
      Striated space formulates as a consequence of territoriality. Human behaviour demands a sense of security where physical space is enclosed (becomes sedentary). These enclosed spaces are defined by walls and roads that convey boundaries of space which exhibits a constancy of orientation and metric regularity. Striated space is interrupted and defeated into a hierarchal order.
      It is clearly depicted that the Gothic Cathedral is that of striated space. The overwhelming experience of vertical mass and hallowed spaces creates a sense of spiritual presence. The hierarchal order of space extends beyond the spatial layout of the building and draws on the existence of god as higher order and man as submissive mortal. Through Prioritizing the notion of; heaven as the ‘home’ in which the immortal soul belongs. There is a lack of identification with place as the feeling of one’s soul and hence spirit ‘transcends’ to ‘otherworldly’ realm. The metaphorical sense that your soul dissipates…

    • Hymie Yspeert 213200252 (AT213)

      in the above account, several issues of space are discussed. Among them: Time; pre-modernity; and striation.
      The description of Gyeongju city refers to several structures from a pre-modern time based upon royalty which impose a hierarchy on the space and thus an initial striation.
      The account then builds a disscusion on the EXPERIENCE of two spaces of faith and spirituality (and once again dealing with pre-modern space). one is striated, namely St Vitus, and the other carries a dominance of smooth space, namely Mt Namsan. the former eludes to a spiritual or rational experience op space with the various components of vaults, pillars, statues all arranged in pre-determined hierarchy to compose a spiritual feeling. At Mt Namsan, the experience of space is a physical engagement with not only the rocks and the forest, but the physical effort in ascending upwards towards the heavens (as apposed to a mental ascension as is the case at St Vitus). An example architectural discussion which comes to mind here is that between the work of Peter Eisenman (namely Houses 1-10) and Pieter Zumthor’s Fals Baths. Eisenman’s work is a rational and mathematical manipulation of space which compose spaces perfectly understood by the mind, but understood with a great degree of difficulty to the human body. On the other hand, Zumthor’s work invites the physical engagement of the senses in the experience of the architecture while aiming to achieve a spiritual ‘oneness’ with the surrounding…

    • Morgan Bolze ATT223 (213293366)

      1 of 3:

      According to the Buddhist culture, nirvana refers to “the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished” and it is further described as the “the union with the divine ground of existence and the experience of blissful egolessness” in Hindu philosophy.

      Man, as a human being, has been described as a relationship between physical and psychological characteristics.

      According to the Christian Bible, the body, the soul and the spirit are the three fundamental notions that describe the innate nature of the human. The body is a structure of functioning cells and elements – the physical. The soul is often described as “the immortal essence of a living thing.” Theories on whom or what obtains a soul in the natural world varies. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic theologian, stated that the soul is attributed to all organisms but only human souls are immortal. Different religions have their own theories as those of Jainism and Hinduism, for example, teach that all biological organisms have souls. Animism is taught by some religions and is the belief that even non-biological entities (such as rivers and mountains) possess souls. The spirit generally relates to the “immaterial being” and refers to religious concepts of life, death and the divine.

      The Greek philosopher, Socrates, “crowned” the human psyche to be “the most divine of human actions.” Man has fundamental physical and psychological needs. The…

    • Morgan Bolze ATT223 (213293366)

      2 of 3:

      Once the primary needs have been met, developing man responds to the psychological needs and spirituality is explored. The search for the state of nirvana, or the divine has become a pre-occupation exhibited in most religions and spiritual acts. The spiritual pre-occupation concerning the life-cycle and the soul has been identified in early forms of human-kind. The African Bushmen trance dances can be seen as spiritual acts as they recorded their induced trance states where they believed the mind or soul left the body and inhabited other forms.
      It is the unique psyche of primitive man that differentiates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. The developing psyche of man has resulted in the emergence of man as a superior being that is able to control and alter an environment. Instinctively, to satisfy physical needs, man settles in a space and it subsequently becomes a place. Man identifies with possessing an immortal soul develops places of heavenly eternal rest. The opposite of that would be the equivalent of hell.

      The Earth is the space. Two kinds of spaces are distinguished by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as smooth space (nomadic )and striated space (sedentary). The spaces differ in nature, but function only as a combination. The need for shelter results in enclosing a space and the concept of place presents itself. The notions of territory and privacy gradients soon follow.

      In phenomenology, the environment is defined as the place. It is…

    • Morgan Bolze ATT223 (213293366)

      3 of 3:

      When one dominates, it flourishes from the other.
      Developed man moves forward and dominates striation on the smooth functioning Earth.
      B. Olivier compared the Korean Mount Namsam to Christian Cathedrals. The comparison concluded that the cathedrals are man-made spiritual recreations in architectural form that focus on reaching tremendous heights and ornamentation in an attempt to elevate the soul or state of mind through striation.

      Mount Namsam presents a more balanced environment as the smooth space of mountains, streams, rocks and tree is accompanied by the Buddhist shrines and statues. The religious statues and human presence could be considered as physiological man-made symbols of striation. They are however, presented in a more humbled sense that co-exist with the freedom of the smooth space.
      The human presence in the place is less imposing and Mount Namsam provides a place of balance of the smooth and striated.

      This balance is where the immortal soul can rather be set free amongst what is godly. This godly essence is a place of the calm and heavenly as it is better suited to the physical and psychological needs of natural man. The balance of smooth and striated space is relatable to the human body and it places man (the striated) back in co-existence with nature (the smooth).

      Neither dominates. They co-exist, resulting in balance and harmony. Rather than a space for man, it is a place suited to man. Man is able to identify with this…

    • Arno Struwig (ATT223) 213249618

      1 of 2

      Mount Namsan represents that of smooth space. Throughout the mountain landscape, within the mountain spaces, it is homogenous. The sense of disorder/ chaos with the trees, rock’s and streams have no difference between the spaces. However with the Buddhist shrines, statues and rock engravings, striated space is represented. A hierarchical difference between the images of the Buddha and nature, although it being the intention of experiencing nature with images of the Buddha, but primarily it is the mountain spaces which embraces you.

      Not one particular space can be fully smooth or striated . It is always a mixture of the two with a prevailing one.

      I understand this as trying to be “one” with nature. Treating nature with respect is like treating ourselves with respect. Finding the nirvana in nature, is how we can find the nirvana within ourselves, the feeling of “oneness with nature”.

      An example of striation would be the gardens, statues and gold of Versailles, this being during the time of Louis the 14th. It was in those times that they believed the king was a mortal “god”, a king being a representation of one person with absolute power, emphasizing the hierarchy between the king and the peasants.

      The artist Mone’s house is a good example of smooth space, where the striation in his garden and house is very gentle, where as it was told in our lecture that you experience the feeling of almost being lost in time when you meandering through the…

    • Arno Struwig (ATT223) 213249618

      2 of 2

      If a space gives you a nomadic feeling , it is a sign of smooth space.

    • Liza Joubert (213201496)

      Part 1

      Trying to explain smooth and striated space along with their relationship with nature, the best examples that comes to mind is the two places that I have come to call Home. The first place that shaped my youth is on a farm, cradled between enormous mountains, near a small town in the Western Cape. The second, very much the opposite, is Summerstrand, a suburb of Port Elizabeth.

      Smooth and Striated space is never in its purest form, but at some points one does overpower the other. On the farm where I grew up, Nature was welcomed into our home with no hesitation; in the forms of muddy footprints fresh from the ploughing fields, fossils found in the rolling mountains or sometimes a Cape Sparrow that made his home above the light on the veranda. Going into town was and is always a pleasure, especially with my interest in architecture. Walls around houses are virtually nonexistent; neighbors actually know each other (sometimes too well) and you can go to the post office where they will greed you by name. In my, now more informed and educated opinion, this is a very good example of smooth space.

    • Liza Joubert (213201496)

      Part 2

      As previously explained, this space is also not in its purest form. Paranoid South Africans come to small towns like this one to come and build their towering walls around their hard earned mansions. This creates a striation in the form of capitalism, in my opinion a pharmakon for our treasured town. Striated space is based on quantity, which is the main concern in designing these ostentatious homes, where as the older homes and public spaces has a concern for the quality.

      To me it seems that capitalism and “uniqueness” (I put this word in inverted commas because in their quest for the unique, they arrive at spaces very similar to each other.) is the main concern for people living in the city environment of Port Elizabeth. People place themselves in a certain class depending on how tall their walls are. This to me is a big frustration; going on evening strolls I cannot even see the flowers from which the sweet smells of a Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow come from.

      Another example of striation is the prominent lines that organise and hierarchies in the high rise apartment buildings along the beachfront. The penthouse for example is seen as the most important and exclusive space in these buildings, with the lower floors reserved for “cheaper” flats and storage for maintenance and cleaning.

    • Liza Joubert (213201496)

      Part 3

      Yet again, striated space is not in its purest form, it is merely overpowering. The Beachfront from the parks of Humewood to the beaches and pathways in Summerstrand is smooth space, where people are free to stroll and explore a glimpse of nature.

      I conclude that technology goes hand in hand with striation, because that is what makes the measurable. Where we step aside for nature to take over, we seem to create smooth space. It is this smooth space that welcomes me with the familiar feeling of peace and tranquility every time I go back home to the farm.

    • L Dalton 213217953

      Smooth spaces are said to be the territory of the nomads, while striated spaces are created by the sedentary. The act of striating space is fundamentally inherent in the birth of agriculture; therefore the remaining in one place suggests ownership to the place. Architecture embodies the striation therefore defining the limits of the land, it creates an inside separated from the outside. Architecture seen as device of controlling bodies, the flow and movement through streets and buildings are guided by the nature of the forms. My visit to St Pauls Cathedral London captures this idea of striated space. A cathedral houses the throne of a bishop, making it the centre of Christian worship and teaching. Situated in the nation’s capital this cathedrals hierarchy is immediately distinguished as a power ‘figure’ in the country. The striation between spaces is distinguished by the use of entrances into the Nave. The nave is where the members of the church gather, the west end of the nave is dominated by the great West Doors, these doors only being used by sovereign and for great occasions. The nave opens up to the space in which most of the important work of the cathedral happens, the dome. As one progresses through the cathedral ones placement in society seems to decrease, the feeling of hierarchical statuses created through the use of entrances and spaces is ‘forced’ upon the visitor.

    • L Dalton 213217953

      The massiveness of the cathedrals structural components ‘de-scale’ humans, reinforcing the status of the cathedral in the environment.

      Stonehenge, once a temple, is now experienced as a wonder of ancient achievement is a smooth space in comparison to that of the cathedral. Stonehenge lies at the centre of a landscape so rich in prehistoric remains. Once perhaps a striated space of its time has commemorated battles an observed the movements of the sun, moon and stars. Stonehenge interpreted as an ancient computer, has become a focus for celebration. Standing next to these large ancient stones does not decrease ones hierarchical status, yet leaves one feeling in awe of this spectacular achievement. The feelings experienced standing in the open fields near these large mysterious stones are indescribable; a connection with the land is immediately felt. The sense of the ‘space’ being part of a World heritage site never makes a visitor feel less valued in the society like the Cathedral imposed. Stonehenge’s smooth space and surrounding hills comforts and welcomes one to its sacred place.

    • cammy cochrane 213201283 (continued)

      The metaphorical sense that your soul dissipates into the ether. The ether being the ‘unknown’ establishes an unobtainable identity of infinite space as place. Consequently humanity loses identity of the individual and the presence of man’s existence within nature is placed in a state of placelessness . Within Christian faith the concepts of heaven and hell are delivered to be the eternal place in which we belong.
      The description of Mount Nansan as the discovery of ‘Nirvana’ immediately establishes a connection to smooth space. Smooth space is defined by its ‘texture of traits consisting of continuous variation of free action.” The word nirvana meaning; a place characterized by freedom from pain worry and the external world begins to explore an ‘environmental phenomology’ where the embodied experience of man in nature formulates man’s sense of identity. As human beings, earth constitutes the ‘known’ and therefore a sense of belonging to nature. The article makes reference to the mountain spaces being a spiritual experience that is ‘worldly’ re-iterates my point.
      Smooth space that incorporates architecture (which ultimately is striated space) is described to be “pervasive spirituality together like a beautiful intricate knot in a tapestry”. Speaks of an architecture that creates unison between smooth and striated space. This balance results in an architecture that mirrors the ‘genius loci’ of the surrounding architecture.

    • cammy cochrane 213201283 (continued 2) total of 3

      Norberg-Schulz explains that to feel existentially rooted, humanity needs to reflect on the typology of their surrounding environment. By respecting the identity of place the act of dwelling is found. Thus one can argue that your partner’s comment is one that speaks of ‘genius loci’.
      Architecture makes place, through the use of striated space. However in order for humanity to find a more conclusive sense in the way in which we exist in the world the combination and balance of smooth and striated space is vital. One can argue that the single existence of one or the other will ultimately result in a state of ‘placelessness ‘of humanity in nature. The point be made that the connection of culture and nature to find complete harmony.
      In this we find an architecture where nirvana is its essence, is where the lifestyle of freedom originates.

    • Yusraa Shabbir Hamza AT223 (s213200759)

      Part 1 of 2

      There are many lessons we can learn by comparing the Eastern and Western beliefs. The one thing they both have in common is spiritual existence. Nirvana in Korea is famously known for its abysmal spirituality. The Koreans believe that Nirvana is a place of perfect peace and happiness, almost signifying the heavens. The spirituality of the place elevates one to the highest state of enlightenment and extinguishes the fires of greed, hatred and delusion. When these emotional and psychological defilements are destroyed by wisdom, the mind becomes free, radiant and joyful. All this is somehow connected to nature. As humans, we all have spirituality, our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, NATURE.

      Spaces such as the temples on Mt. Namsan or the Gothic church like St Vitus cathedral in Prague are perfect contradictory spaces that both intend to offer the same function but are completely different. They both focus on elevating the being spiritually their architecture.

      Standing before a Gothic cathedral, you are called forth to a visual exploration. But, where does one begin to look, and how? There are new images vying for the eye’s attention at every turn. It is as if, with firm intention, no single space was left vacant or absent of ornament. Both the inside and the outside beautifully decorated, the gargoyles may appear fearful but act as if they’re guarding the majestic structure. In contradiction to the…

    • Yusraa Shabbir Hamza AT223 (s213200759)

      PAR 2 OF 2

      The book “Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia” by Gilles Deleuze illustrates a coercive analysis of social phenomena and offers modern alternatives about philosophy and culture. He enables one to rethink spaces in terms of Smooth and Striated, as a conceptual pair and a complex mixture between nomadic forces and sedentary captures.

      A striated space makes one close off a surface and “allocates” it according to determinate intervals or assigned breaks; while in a smooth space one “distributes” themselves in an open space. These two functions, allocation and distribution, serve as the dominant organizational principle that differentiates a smooth and a striated space. Smooth spaces are homogeneous and have a sense of disorder and chaos while striated spaces have a sense of hierarchy and direction.

      It is however interesting that time is an example of extreme striated space. The palace and gardens of Versailles are considered as the masterpiece of André Le Notre. Louis the XIV resided there and was known as the “Sun King” (great power). It was an absolute monarchy and the king was looked up to as a mortal god. Charles Dickens illustrates more in his book “The Tale of Two Cities” Versailles with its wonderful gardens, statues and ornaments is a perfect example of a striated space. There is a linear movement pattern around the gardens and the grandeur of the palace indicate striation.

      The house and gardens of Claude Monet creates a much more…