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How Transformational Experience Can Improve Your Architecture


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy


Providing extraordinary experiences for occupants can really help them to achieve their goals and uplift their quality of life. That is why it is important for your architecture to target “transformational experiences” where occupants leave your architecture better off than before they entered it. In this video, I will show you how this is not only possible, but should also be a goal for you as a designer of built environments.



00:00 MLL: I’m Maria Lorena Lehman, Founder of Sensing Architecture. And in this micro lecture I’m going to teach you about a great goal for you to have as an architect — which is for you to design transformational experiences for your occupants. In this video, I’m going to show you what this is all about.


00:24 MLL: A great goal for your architecture to have is for it to help occupants learn while they experience it. You see, occupants, upon experiencing your architecture, can learn. They can uplift their quality of life, and experiencing your architecture can be a transformative experience. So, in order for this to happen we begin with your building itself, and this is where occupant experience takes place. From there, we have occupant entrance, and then we have occupant exit. Now during occupant entrance, this defines the occupant’s pre-existing situation, and their conditions could be behavioral, physiological, intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual. These experiential levels are ways in which your architecture can touch its occupant. So after your occupant has experienced your architecture, they would then exit. As they exit your architecture, their post-experience situation occurs. So therefore, changes happened, transformation has occurred, and their quality of life has been uplifted.

01:48 MLL: So this is a great goal for you to have because your architecture would go from being status quo building, that gets the bare minimum of programmatic needs accomplished, to actually being architecture that uplifts quality of life for occupants to help transform them to deepen their experience and transformation so that they can live a better life being more aware of themselves, their surroundings and each other. So if the occupant decides to experience the building again, a second, a third, fourth, fifth time, they can deepen their experience and deepen their transformation through your architecture. So this becomes a cyclical evolutionary type of process where the occupant actually improves over time because of the environment which you’ve designed and provided.

02:43 MLL: Examples of this can be seen in well-designed gyms for instance, where the occupant practices. They go into the gym, maybe feeling tired or worn out. They work out within the gym, have a great experience, and they leave more energized. They have a sense of well-being. Another environment where this can occur, is within the office environment. Because of an office design, the occupant can practice feeling creative and being productive. And they can leave the office with a sense of purpose or accomplishment.

03:27 MLL: So again, the goal is for you to design architecture which helps your occupants improve their state. This can be behavioral, physiological, intellectual, emotional or even spiritual. So it’s great if you can get your architecture to help occupants learn and to transform to help uplift their quality of life.

03:52 MLL: If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to join my “Design Insight Newsletter”. And you will also, get my book, “Bringing Architecture to the Next Level” for free. Discover how you can shift your mindset to reach breakthrough ideas, meet and predict occupant need using sensory design, leverage your design process, so you can get more with less, and rethink new technologies to unleash your innovative edge.

04:18 MLL: To join now and access your book, simply visit


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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