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How Social Media Impacts Architectural Perception


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © khalid Albaih | Flickr

With the proliferation of mobile technologies, the world is getting smaller and more social. You see, mobile technologies bring with them the capability of global real-time communication, and this can have an impact on the way architecture gets perceived. Social media, together with mobile devices, allows for what I call “everywhere information” — and this information can be used to convey architecture to the masses as well as to inform an architectural experience more internally.

Due to social media, it becomes ever more possible to form a first impression of a place before ever having visited it in person. With social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, it becomes possible to broadcast “place” using photographs, video, or text-based commentary. Rarely is a place simply a place anymore — as events occur within such places that result in merging the physical with the virtual.

So, how does social media impact architectural perception?

With real-time feedback to the masses about a “place”, perception can become second-hand. Additionally, this adds another dimension to architecture — a dimension that speaks toward the “success” of place in real-time. You see, architecture is beginning to take on more of a personality as visitors stream its character over the social web. Impressions are formed, plans are made, and architecture gets marketed in various manners.

No longer is this a world where architecture only resides on a site or in a book. Architecture is part of the everyday activity — and these are activities that get shared.

Social Media as a Source for Smart Design

Along with the sharing that social media brings, it can also be used to help inform architecture. Just imagine if social media information could be used to make an architectural space better. That space could gather data, making the most of “everywhere information”, and it could use that data to attune its own architectural features to help current building occupants.

The real potential behind social media is this concept of “everywhere information”, and with it, new ways to experience architecture can emerge. Just imagine an architecture that adjusts itself based on the data coming in from such real-time communication — with new ways to solve for occupant need.

As an architect, it is important that you keep an eye out for advancements in mobile devices that allow for information to be everywhere. Think about ways that you could use such technologies to help your architecture improve its own potential. Also, see if your buildings are being “spread” using social media. If so, what personality are they taking on? And how will this inform the design of your next building?


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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