Feeling the Table without Touching the Cloth

-> Project of Three Interventions
-> Short Text on Haptics
-> The Table for Breakfast
-> The Table for Lunch
-> The Table for Dinner
-> All Three Museums Altogether
-> Table Instrument of Florence - and the City

Project of Three Interventions (2009-2010)    <- up





In the project Florence is explored under the theme of Urban Museum where the everyday plays out the monumental and the monumental the everyday. Through a series of orchestrated touches the projects intervene in the urban, architectural, historical, instrumental and socio-political spheres of Florence.


Dining is an everyday action but can also be a ceremony; it is a delegate of Italian culture that stretches athwart the contemporary and historical, wealthy and indigent. Dining is employed as a narrator that spans three selected interventions.


The three prima facie unrelated interventions with three different programmes are called Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner set in three different sites in Florence, playing out the 'Haptics' of their immediate and distant context. Each intervention is built on the tectonics of the trivial and transcendental, programmatic and phenomenological, literal and metaphorical, present and absent, physiological and that of the flesh.

Short Text on Haptics    <- up


'Haptics is a sense of the project.
Haptics is perception beyond traditional senses1.
Haptics is experience of the world,
environment and us, full and complex.
It is materialization of Merleau-Ponty's flesh2.
Haptics3 is the ultimate state of perception.'

1 Sometimes referred to as Aristotelian senses: vision, audition, gustation, olfaction and tactition. Nonetheless haptics is neither restricted to other more recently classified senses like equilibrioception, nociception, thermoception, magnetoception, kinaesthesia, etc.

2 Occurrence of reciprocity either abstract or material in between the perceiver and the perceived. See Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1968). The visible and the invisible, ed. Claude Lefort. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press.

3 Matter of Haptics is further elaborated in essays 'Haptics' and 'Haptical museum of Florence' by the author.

The Table for Breakfast    <- up


Breakfast is an Italian street café set in a village on a hill steeping up from Florence. Breakfast is narrowness of the street where you sit at the table against the eternity of space between you and Florence. Breakfast is outcast from the city while being permanently magnetized to Cupola1. It is a non-localized existence within unnamed village against perfect direction to Cupola's focal point. Levels of distances, scales and proximities: You, Street, Village, City, Cupola.

1 Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.


The Table for Lunch    <- up


Lunch is a private dining room and roof terrace in an attic flat set on the corner of Piazza della Signoria. From the roof you cannot overlook Piazza and the majesty of the tower of Palazzo Vecchio over the higher building of your neighbour's. Lunch is nesting among the roofs and nesting of the tables on top of each other. It is a play of two grids: 'interior' reflects the space arrangement of the building, 'urban' records the position of the flat against Palazzo Vecchio tower. At 12:15 on Summer Solstice the elongated shadow of the Tower covers the terrace table and stops at its edges. Lunch is suppressed visuality evoking other senses; the visuality itself in its blind form of imagination. It is a feeling of shadow of the Tower on your shoulder, uncertainty between anticipated and unknown, Plato's cave.


The Table for Dinner    <- up


Dinner is a living mall. Dinner is composed of two neighbouring buildings, one dating to 1200' and the other 1950'. The party wall then sections in between the historical and contemporary. It is an authentic palace and post-war facsimile, quãle of the border of bombing. Dinner investigates the flesh of touch of the old brick and the new brick. Dinner is an expenditure in Bataille's sense1, heap of gold and jewellery - a prosthetic arm of Ponte Vecchio2.


It is an everyday life in flats, gold bought into the flats, it is an evening theatre but also a theatre of that everyday life. But foremost it is the Dining: dining in breakfast bar, lunch bistro, dinner restaurant, cupola3. Dinner is a key to Breakfast and Lunch. It is incarnated Cupola. Dinner is an evening ball in the ballroom, dancing tango on top of the roofs, suspended in the air.

1 Bataille, Georges (1985). 'The notion of expenditure', in Visions of excess: Selected writings, 1927-1939, ed. Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press: 116-29.

2 Since 1593 Ponte Vecchio has been made a marketing place for goldsmiths and jewellers exclusively by order of Ferdinando I de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Dinner is located on the south bank of river Arno, 120 metres west of Ponte Vecchio, virtually around the corner.

3 Note the difference: cupola (lowercase) refers to the newly built extension suspended above the Dinner building while Cupola (capital C) refers to the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.


All Three Museums Altogether    <- up


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are Museums. They might be even called Museums of Dining or Haptic Museums. They encompass many qualities museums connote. But they are certainly not museums as we would imagine denoting the word.

This is the key to understand the reciprocity and necessity of all three 'museums'. As much as senses bear a certain essence of indiscerptibility when they can still work after destruction of one but never to the same extent or quality, the 'museums' might exist without one or two of the others but never in their present shape.


The Table Instrument of Florence is a map showing all three interventions together in relation to Cupola (dome of Santa Maria del Fiore) - the metaphor for relating piece in Florence, each of the museums has such relating piece of its own in its local context. Breakfast relates to real Cupola, Lunch to tower of Palazzo Vecchio and Dinner both to Ponte Vecchio and Cupola. The Table (usual prerequisite for Dining) is an instrument that 'draws new Florence' - it took important part in understanding relations in Florence and consequently placing interventions into the city.

The Tower is a personification, a blending concept, of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. All are entangled around the same narrative of haptics, dining, culture and history. All feature several 'tables' vertically displaced (nested) and joined by series of staircases / ramps which metaphorize the journey from induction to resolution. All feature its own 'Cupola' - a relating monument, point of localization in Florence. Dinner furthermore contains its own materially present 'cupola'.1

1 Note the difference: cupola (lowercase) refers to the newly built extension suspended above the Dinner building while Cupola (capital C) refers to the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Table Instrument of Florence - and the City    <- up


'As a table sets
for dinner
it sets for dining on Florence
in Florence
at a table as long as a river1
it sets its drawers
to draw new Florence'

1 Bartolini, Chiara and Degl'Innocenti, C. (2005). Diladdarno. Florence beyond the river. Firenze: Edizioni Polistampa: 266-271.


The Table is a tool used for describing and understanding Florence. It is a tangible personification of Dining and Italian Culture. It is the Haptic Instrument of Florence. The ultimate Table is my vision of Florence's urban function, boundless possibilities of interpretation bound and reduced with carefully curated rules.


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Marek Sivák - architecture

Presentation Feeling the Table without Touching the Cloth Portfolio of Other Academic Projects Back
Welcome to the web page on architecture and architectural theory by M Arch Marek Sivák. My interest lies in the intertwining of practical designs and theoretical structures leading beyond. In the centre of my research has been Haptics - the quality of touch, of all senses, of something that reaches beyond the senses. This is what singles out architecture from other arts. My architecture is sensual, contextual, finds narratives in the local conditions as much as in the context of the city - works at many scales.
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