Tension is both an indicator and cause for stress. The stress could be good or useful, or the stress could cause the individual harm. In most instances, tension in the muscles causes movement and bending. This is minimal stress. However, the tension can also cause the body to seize and cause aching or even sharp pain. Because we do not want to harm the individual, we will ignore the negative form of tension and stress. So, we can explore tension through the movement of the body within space. This movement can be exercise or simple circulation around a space and structure. However, we must focus on the constriction of the muscles; in the next form of touch: stretch, we can focus on the pulling of the muscles.
Design can use tension by encouraging the individual to move. This movement will improve the user, but also accentuate and trace the space. In a time where there is too little exercise for much of the public, it is a good opportunity to push forward the sense of tension in design. How do we get people to do movement and motion? We need attractors that pull people from standing or sitting. Visual and other sensory engagement is a possibility. Encouraging physical interaction through games, dancing, and sports is another. Moving people via vertical and horizontal circulation is yet another option. Stairs are a great way to get people to explore motion and tension.
Exploring design as only tension is theoretically interesting, because we would need to rely solely on movement. This is possible, and the movements would help define the space, where the motion defines and fills the architecture. In this way, the motion can be classified and based on frequency, strength, and speed. This is a very Modern way to define a space, and the exercise can be taken so far as to nullify the need of spatial envelopes, where the movement of the body is the architecture.
If we were to design a space that did not incorporate tension, then the space would be static and dead. No movement would push us to ask whether the space was necessary at all. And, without space, there would be no tension, because there wouldn’t be movement–movement creates space, because it gives purpose. Without movement and space, there is limited tension.
Tension can also be used for time, as tension is work that can be measured by time. Too much tension can cause injury or pain, and the body registers the amount and time of tension–not only through wear and soreness of the muscles, but also through the pain and sweat. What does it mean to define a space with the body and then require to hold the position to perpetuate the space? Is this the same as the movement? Except the exercise is the limitation of movement, not exacerbation of it.
To use tension in an existing space, we must limit a sedentary way of inhabiting the structure. Movement is both Modern and necessary, where we can make the user move to add interest for themselves. To add mystery and surprise around corners and up stairs is likely to improve movement. An existing space can have new material or amenities to draw people into it. What kind of narrative can the designer create to impel the user to move through the building–the structure like a book. Social interaction can also attract people through or up into a structure–a person is much more willing to act when given the opportunity to have a friend to talk and interact with. Can we create have moments throughout an existing structure where people can bump into each other and have a conversation? Can we have moments where individuals can exercise for exercise’s sake?
It appears that tension is the motor for motion, and motion defines and changes a space. In this way, tension can be seen as creating space. As a sense, we understand tension can be measured to find the extent of motion through speed, frequency, and strength, and in turn, speed, frequency, and strength can measure a structure. Can we find a parallel or connection between the sense of tension and the physical, structural phenomenon of tension? Could they be the same? Should they be the same? We will want to explore similar ideas in the sense of stretch. The two senses are very much interrelated, but strangely, they use different sensors. Perhaps, both forms of sense can be used together, in parallel.