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Use Communication Technology to Make Your Building Flex


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © williamcho | Flickr

As Communication Technology Moves Ahead…

How will your building be used over time? I’m sure you already take into account how certain materials will look as they are continuously exposed to sunlight or are worn down by occupant use. But do you ever seriously consider how, when and why your building will need a “facelift” during its lifespan? Well, today there are a multitude of factors that can spark the need for such change — and a major one is communication technology.

Communication technology is spreading and evolving at a faster and faster pace — particularly noticeable in office buildings. The nature of the way employees communicate is having radical effects on the way buildings work. In fact, the cultures behind many architectural institution-types are morphing because of changes in communication — and their occupants certainly feel the differences.

With new technologies, people are able to communicate anytime and anywhere. Computing is becoming ubiquitous and sensors are already being embedded in a wide range of devices. Yet, buildings remain somewhat static — as if to wrap themselves around all of this activity, without actually fusing with it and becoming a part of its emerging rhythms.

The Art of the “Connection”

As an architect, I challenge you to dissect the narrative of your occupant’s lives. Use architecture to spread, filter and make sense of all of the rapidly traveling information going to and from your occupant within a given day. Such information needs to be filtered and presented to them at the right time, in the right place and in the right manner.

Yes, information is quite handy when held within the comfort of a personal device like an iPhone, but can you imagine what might be possible if information could dynamically make an employee’s location (wherever they may be in their office building, for example) fill with real-time and customized “purposes” to help them reduce stress and do a better job — while they actually perform the job?

Buildings should be more than a series of pieces and parts assembled in some aesthetic manner that happens to be functional. As we enter the world of tomorrow today, we as architects need to think of buildings as more than just static entities around which occupants are in motion. Instead, architecture should also flex with its inhabitants — helping them to make connections everywhere.


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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