The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 21 February 2003

Thermal Delight in Architecture

by Lisa Heschong

If one pays very close attention, one will experience architecture on many sensual levels. It affects us in ways that are entirely unexpected. The author of this little book picks up on the thermal experience of architecture, and argues that our corporate mania for control of the interior environment has dulled us to the experience of space as a physical experience. In just four chapters, Heschong looks over the thermal history of place, evoking the necessity of a thermal experience across cultural lines. There is the traditional hearth. There are cool gardens in desert cultures. There are modern passive solar houses that connect their occupants to the cycles of warm and cool. And there are historical examples from Japanese baths to Roman baths and Finnish saunas. This is all very interesting, but the key is that the author promotes a subtle line of thought about space and our experience of it. She argues that the thermal environment can be treated with craft as much as the light and space of a building. The book reads a bit as a thesis project, and it feels a touch incomplete, but it is a suggestive bit of thinking about the places in which we all live.

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