Miguel Guitart investigates the architectural filter and its experiential dynamics in latest book

Book cover - Behind Architectural Filters.

by Rachel Teaman

Published April 22, 2022


UB architecture professor Miguel Guitart has published a book exploring the spectrum of experiences created by one of the most important of architectural thresholds: its openings to the exterior world.

Miguel Guitart.

Miguel Guitart, assistant professor of architecture at UB, investigates the experiential intersections between matter, perception and memory.

Behind Architectural Filters: Phenomena of Interference (Routledge, 2022) documents the active role of these architectural “filters” in generating physically and sensory charged spatial experiences, from spilling light into space to shaping memories of place. The book is written for students and scholars of architectural history, theory, art, design and philosophy, offering an unprecedented perspective on the production of spatial atmospheres.

An architect, educator and author, Guitart focuses his research on the experiential intersections between matter, perception and memory. His analysis in Behind Architectural Filters is presented through 10 case studies grouped under five generative parameters: origin, density, thickness, function, and message. Each case study investigates the main aspects of the filters’ internal genesis and the character of the spaces informed by them. The visually rich case studies illustrate a broad geographic, cultural and historical scope, and connect past tradition with contemporary design.

Consider his reflection on light and shadow as architectural elements, in Chapter 3, “The Filter as a Transitional Space”: “When trespassing the openings of a filter, light becomes a living element that shapes the architecture that contains it…Beams of light extend from specific points, then hit and diffuse the structural components, providing an ever changing form whose spatial tension qualifies the interior.” 

Guitart is the author of The Depth of the Skin (Asimetricas, 2015), and coeditor of the four-volume Architectural Practice book series (Nobuko, 2014–2021). 

Behind Architectural Filters has received critical acclaim from leading architectural scholars around the world

“Covering a broad panorama of the centuries-old evolution and culturally articulated diversity of these mediating filters, the book focuses not as much upon their pragmatic and measurable dimensions as it highlights their immeasurable or phenomenological ramifications. In so doing, this scholarly study, along with outlining an ontology of architecture, also reflects on the related fundamental aspects of human existence. In our troubled world of today, a more intense and sensible relationship between architecture and its environment, especially the natural one, is of paramount importance. It is also in this regard that this book should be an indispensable addition to the library of every architect, as well as student and school of architecture."

- Botond Bognár, Professor and Edgar A. Tafel Endowed Chair in Architecture, School of Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA 

"What is the nature of the envelope of a building? Architects and historians over the last 150 years have asked this question in countless ways supplying contradictory and fragmented answers. Should it shelter us or connect us to the world outside? Is it a skin, an environmental seal, or is it a space? Is it a fortress or a suit of clothes? If it is no longer structural, then what is it? Miguel Guitart has taken on the daunting task of examining these questions in depth putting constructional rigor, aesthetic ideology, and formal analysis to work analyzing key buildings of history and the modern era to produce a work that is profound and original, a means to understand the edges of a building not as a surface but as the essence of architecture."

Edward Ford, Professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, University of Virginia, USA