Architecture can induce Resonance – Hartmut Rosa on Sara Keller’s new book

Architecture can induce resonance, but the effect thereof remains unpredictable: here’s what we learned from the discussion between Hartmut Rosa and Sara Keller during the book launch of Architektonische Resonanz. Das Mausoleum des indischen Sufi-Meisters Shah Vajihudin Alvi published with Schnell & Steiner. In her book, Sara Keller introduces the notion of “architectural resonance” as an application, in the field of architecture, of Hartmut Rosa’s theory of resonance.

As participant of the book launch, Hartmut Rosa discussed the work of Sara Keller and the new vista it opens for the study and practice of architecture. The podcast below lets you experience Hartmut Rosa’s inspiring commentary on the book. Susanne Rau, Professor for Spatial History in Erfurt and author of the preface of the book, introduced the book launch, while Jamal Malik, retired Professor in Muslim Cultural History at University of Erfurt gave a comment that is also available as podcast in this blog.

Abstract of Hartmut Rosa’s commentary

Architects and theoricians of architecture have shown interest in the resonance theory, but nobody really tried to apply the idea of resonance to architecture. The gap is now successful filled thanks to the work by Sara Keller.

The book shows that architecture is built Weltbeziehung, it is ‘relationship to the world’ make stone. All three axes of resonance come together in the case study of the Indian Sufi mausoleum: the horizontal axis or resonance with people, the diagonal axis or resonance with objects, and the vertical axis or communication with the immaterial. Two further perspectives could be added to these 3 fundamental axes of Rosa’s resonance theory: a fourth axis on self-experience such as yoga practice or praying, and a fifth axis on connecting through time, both past and present. Constellations of resonance phenomena turns the building into a second skin, just as cloth, house or car can be perceived as a second skin.

Looking through the lens of resonance, the building appears in a more encompassing light: it is much more than a material structure, and architecture theory could be much more than studying styles and symbols. Architecture speaks about relationship to the world, either through a cognitive process (what Keller refers to as “micro-resonance”) or through a sensory, potentially universal, effect (what Keller refers to as “macro-resonance”).

A main issue raised by the argument of Sara Keller is the question of engineerability. Rosa’s theory argues against Verfügbarkeit, or availability of resonance. Resonance, unlike a material resource, cannot be controlled and governed. Keller’s study however demonstrates that resonance can be induced by architectural practice. If Rosa’s is convinced by the book that architectural resonance can be designed in a certain sense, it cannot be controlled. The effect of induced resonance remains unpredictable.

Cite this blog post
urbrel (2023, September 1). Architecture can induce Resonance – Hartmut Rosa on Sara Keller’s new book. Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from

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