As is typical with the present-time, we are always in the midst of emerging trends. For designers, this means either following the trends or setting new ones by being well ahead of the curve. Environmental design is no different. As advancing technologies like virtual reality lead to augmented realty, or as interactive physical space leads to adaptive physical space, it becomes fascinating (and necessary) to question where these technological developments are heading.
Architectural design in virtual reality takes on many forms: from environmental concept design in films and video games to concept development simulations during the architectural design process. It is fascinating to see how what can be made for the virtual will often find its way into the physical world. For many, the virtual becomes a “playground” for experimentation, exploration, and discovery of new ideas that get translated into the physical world.
The phase during your architectural project when you have the most leverage is during your concept design phase. Ideas, design decisions, and iterative changes made at this stage take less effort, cost, and time. But there is a critical driver behind the concept design phase, and it is your “creative vision”. To empower your creative vision, ask yourself the following questions as you design…
When designing environments, do you adhere to a “one-size-fits-all” approach? Or do you try to personalize your environments for individual building occupants? Many designers use technology to help with the personalization of a design; yet, there is also another approach to consider that, when coupled with technology, can strengthen your design even further. This approach is what I call the “Gradation Method”.
When designing, do you strive to design projects that look like other projects already built? Or do you strive to create a unique and original contribution to the discipline of architecture? If you concentrate on the latter, then you are a step ahead toward finding and leveraging your own uniqueness as an architect – and this uniqueness can give you a significant competitive advantage to help set you apart from your competition.
It is wise not to take your design tools for granted, and to analyze how much they are helping you so you can make necessary adjustments to improve your design process. The following is a question to ask of your most-used design tool(s)…
As an architectural designer, how you think about light can make all the difference in your design’s success. For example, do you work with architectural light as more of a scientist or an artist? This distinction can help you become better at doing both. And when you design environmental light as both a scientist and an artist, your designs will be more fully enjoyed by occupants as they experience the poetics of your built vision.
Yes, a design project can do its part to solve for local challenges, and can even do its part to create new local opportunities. But as designers we must go beyond the local to ask: How can this project give rise to more global solutions and opportunities?
Most recently, I have been working with procedural modeling software to create very forward-thinking conceptual designs. This way of modeling objects, buildings, or even cities is quite interesting as it allows for a more rapid testing, experimentation, and prototyping of ideas. And when procedural modeling integrates sensory design methodologies, opportunity to achieve high level poetics can surface.
Maria Lorena Lehman's book entitled, Adaptive Sensory Environments, is a 2017 Nautilus Book Award Silver Medal Winner in the “Creative Process” category.
I was surprised by the number one question architects asked me during a recent survey I conducted. They wanted to know “Should I ever be completely satisfied with my architectural design project? And how do I know when to be satisfied with it?” These are both very good questions, and they each led me to think even more deeply about my own creative design process. The following is how I think about design project completion and satisfaction.
Achieving a high poetic level within a design will foster a spirit of place if composed properly. In other words, your poetic architectural design can do more than uplift function. It can achieve high poetic synergy by fusing aesthetics, function, and meaning in such a way that occupants will feel one with themselves, with each other, and with their surrounding environment.
As an architect, one of the most beneficial skillsets for you to develop is your ability to create truly innovative designs that your clients love. Over the years, I have heard about the huge challenge architects face as they strive to both innovate their design and “sell” those innovative ideas to their client for approval.
There are times within an architectural design project when digital nature can accomplish goals that actual physical nature cannot. You see, digital nature can be used in three unique ways to enhance an environment that serves to empower the occupant that inhabits its space. The following are three techniques for you to “pull” from physical nature, to create digital nature that presents the “real-thing” in entirely new and innovative ways.
As you work your way through the all-important design concept phase, how do you assess the quality of your design concept? There are numerous aspects you can base a design concept’s success upon.
As interactivity continues to be integrated into designed environments, it is important to explore how such interactivity can emerge into forming the behavioral character of a design. With each interaction between design element and building occupant, interactive architectural environments form impressions in the memory of their occupants.
Have you ever formulated a solution for a design problem, and then discovered that your solution created other new problems? Finding a design solution is not enough – one must also determine how to hone and refine this solution to avoid any side-effects it may bring.
As technology continues to advance, it is important for designers to consider (and guide) how such technologies will affect and be injected into environments. This is particularly true for the long-promised technology which is now gaining ground in its development – the hologram.
As you design your architectural concepts, be sure to think more than about how your building occupants would react. Take your design vision further. When formulating your concept, think of how your building can help your occupant to become smarter – not just intellectually, but emotionally as well.
Paradoxically, as both technology and biophilia are increasingly integrated into everyday spaces, environments will become more personalized, and more nurturing. In other words, technology will help environments to “tune”, while biophilia in design will help environments to “nurture”.