Designing occupant-centered architecture calls for designers to think about environments as providing more than mere comfort. For architectural design, this means striving to reach beyond functionality within your solution. Together with function, aesthetics and meaning must be fused. But how do these all work together to yield new kinds of poetics that innovate occupant experience to uplift quality of life for the better?
What will the future of the architectural design process bring? Will you carry forward your trusted design methods while also injecting the opportunities that emerging design technologies bring? As a forward-thinking designer, I invite you to consider what your own future design process could be like, with the continual development of augmented/virtual reality, prediction algorithms, and faster global communication.
What happens when an environment is purposefully designed to bring occupants to the “edge of perceptional boundaries”? The Nyx project by Alberto Caiola Studio presents a “hand-drawn architecture of light” located in Shanghai, China. This rooftop bar plays with one’s visual perception as it transiently shifts between abstraction and reality with its 21,000 meters of UV reactive cord that glows blue within the black light.
The creative process is like a spring. You wind-up the spring to prepare for its release. When creating, I absorb in the world and explore internally (my wind-up), and then I have creative emergence (my release). And as I delve into my creative practice, I go back and forth between the two. How do you "absorb" as you prepare to "release" your creativity within your design solution?
When analyzing the finished results between a hand-drawing versus a digital-drawing, the stylistic differences are easy to see. Both types of drawings can be very beautiful, if thoughtfully composed. Yet, a designer will think about what they are drawing very differently depending on which drawing process they use.
A design process definition can be explained as the creative and iterative methods one goes through in order to solve for a particular challenge, need, or goal. Within architectural design, one’s design process goes through various stages that begin with an initial creative vision that ultimately gets built as a building that occupants can use. The goal for architects is to optimize their design process in order to create the highest quality architectural design in the shortest amount of time, and within budget. The following is an architect's guide to design process.
Creativity within architectural design dives deep to not only create an experience that fulfills, but also nurtures occupants to engage in activities that bring new ideas, new solutions, and new or improved processes. An architectural space that successfully evokes occupant creativity is one where each occupant can feel “meaningful freedom” within which to do their most authentic thinking.
The question remains: Can virtual reality be an architectural sensory experience? As you ponder the answer to this question, it is important to think first about how to define an architectural sensory experience.
To experience the latest book by Claudio Silvestrin is to experience architecture on a more spiritual level. The book is entitled Claudio Silvestrin’s Timeless Italian Style Architecture Design Philosophy, and as I turned the pages to consciously experience his work, I savored the moments as they evoked peace, joy, and even spiritual sensibility.
Even as you formulate the initial schematics for your architectural concept design, it is wise to comprehensively research not only what your occupant thinks they need now, but also how they would like to grow: physiologically, intellectually, emotionally, behaviorally, and even spiritually. This will help you to grasp how the environmental design’s behavioral language needs to adapt.
Is all of life a game-like journey? Or is the journey more of an experiential process with no real end-goal? Whatever life seems to be at a given moment, it is interesting to consider what physical environments would be like if they were designed with a gaming mentality.
I invite you as an architectural designer to unlock the power of 3D to 4D visualization. Going from 3D visualizations to interactive 4D immersive VR experiences of your design projects (with sound) will convey your concept ideas better by making your multi-sensory design interventions come to life in more tangible ways.
What if an architectural environment could change, learn, and adapt to help occupants as they live, work, heal, or play within a given space? Furthermore, what if such an environment allowed visitors to leave their own “mark” within its design fabric, so future occupants could perceive what came before? Such a malleable architectural environment, would work as if it were a fluid sculpture – able to absorb and preserve a “fingerprint” while still being able to respond to current and future needs and goals.
How often do you work to improve your creativity? You see, creativity is like a muscle, and it must be exercised for you to become a quick and smart design thinker and decision-maker. The key is to know how to push yourself into new “creativity zones” where you can learn to shift paradigms, use new tools, unlock new processes, and even find new ways of working with your team.
How can you push your architectural design to help uplift the lives of your occupants in transformational ways? This may call for you to more deeply understand multi-sensory design and emerging technologies, so you can make smarter design decisions while creating environments.
As an environmental designer, it is important to make smart design decisions during your creative process – at all stages. This is where the practice of design fiction can be injected into your process, to help you formulate not just one design solution that you iterate; but a variety of possible solutions that you can compare, test, or explore quickly at the beginning of your concept formulation process.
In history, there have been times when an “unbuildable” concept, only realized on paper, was paradigm shifting – as such concepts served to shift the mindset of the people toward greater innovative possibilities for the future. I still find it fascinating to see these “unbuildable” concept drawings from yesteryear, and then to think about how our current “unbuildable” concepts will impact the future of our present time.
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…