How is it possible that one environment can make you feel happy, while another environment can make you feel sad. Can these feelings only be attributed to the people interacting with you? Or does the environment also play a role?
Each project challenge comes with its own unique situation. Everything from a site analysis to an understanding of the surrounding culture is necessary to unlock what will make your architectural design stand authentically as a solution that is both innovative and complementary to the inherent context which came before. But how do you ensure that your design approach and subsequent solution is both innovative and authentic? Can both conditions exist at the same time?
Contemplative spaces can help patients healing in a hospital. They can help students learning in a school. And they can even help employees at the workplace. Thus, for your specific building type you may ask yourself the following questions as you design.
An architecturally designed environment, when newly built, stands ready to welcome occupants inside – to utilize its environments from which they can extract function, beauty and meaning. But have you considered that your occupant will actually develop a relationship with your designed architecture over time? And that this relationship will deepen with each occupant visit to the environment you create?
Architecture experience and meaning go hand-in-hand. Experience often leads to meaning, and meaning gives value to experience. So, what role does architecture play in all of this? And how can your designs pull from what matters most to strengthen the benefits they bring?
Emotion in architecture can often be linked to how well an architecture exudes a “sense of place” — where the emotion experienced of a particular architecture can be shaped by its “sense of place”. Often, “sense of place” can help an architecture take on a type of personality — and this personality can serve to trigger emotion in its building occupants because it connects with them.
There is probably a moment when a simple “place” exudes a “sense of place”; most evident when providing an “orientation” that contributes to the community or culture that is larger than it. Some have even said that architecture with a “sense of place” has “soul”.
As you may have noticed, within great works of architecture there is often a more spiritual side to those buildings which “moves” those occupants as they travel within them — and thus, is born spiritual design.
Almost gone are the few coffee shops where the space is simply a place to enjoy that warm cup of coffee and perhaps a slice of desert with a friend or with a good book. Instead, being added to that picture, is the rapidly increasing popularity of free WiFi connection — which, with it, is bringing about some new occupant interaction behaviors within such established institutions like cafés and airports.
New technology often leads to realizing new ways of designing spaces with a “sense of place” — and that is something you should be keenly aware of as an architect.
From an architectural point of view, this animated short film brings up some old and new questions regarding architecture, “signage” and branding — whether it be stylistic branding or more additive branding. For instance, how might your building be perceived, after all of the hard work you put into designing it, when a well-known “brand” it added to your building by way of signage, corporate cultural identity or even by its proximity to another built form with a strong “branded” identity?
What will turn your architecture from merely being a place that people go to, into a place that people feel attached to — a space where they have made a connection and one that is meaningful? Many theories exist and contribute to what can make a place…well, more than a “place”.
Your architectural design reverberates. Yes, architecture maintains walls made up of materials and even wayfinding systems that convey important information; but, the beauty and function that radiates from an incredible architectural work into the soul of those that experience it is often the culmination of seemingly invisible effects exuded by that designed “place”.
Architecture resonates at many scales — the human scale, the building scale, the urban scale, the global scale and the cultural scale. Each building creates a ripple effect beginning with one occupant to ultimately reach its even wider audience which experiences it. Thus, architectural scale is something which you, as an architect, should use instinctively and consciously.
Yes, buildings weather and must pass certain “tests of time”, but do you ever consider whether your building will be worth “saving”, or will even be in use as time passes? It has been said that “[i]t takes a lot of money to build a building, but it doesn’t cost that much more to get it right”.
Can you remember being in an architectural space that had a strong sense of place? Is your memory of that place linked to an experience that happened there? Odds are that that place also had a strong sense of orientation. As landmarks and other architectural features come together in one’s mental map, your sense of place becomes stronger.
What makes architecture sacred? That spirituality that a “place” makes you feel often serves to inspire and provoke memory through the senses. By capturing and triggering important memories, architecture can bring people together to unite individual memories into a collective memory. Architecture can allow important moments to live on, sacredly, in this way.
It seems that the environment can help its occupants to expand beyond their own comfort zones, to achieve higher potentials and realize authentic fulfillment. This does not mean pushing a person into a situation that is dangerous or completely unexpected. But it does mean helping a person step into their next level of greatness.
Use neuroscience to not only improve life as we currently know it, but to also question and innovate the way we live. I have a hunch that it will unlock new and exciting ways for people to perceive and interact with the world around them --- all because the environment does not take function for granted.
Three fantastic methods to help you create architectural designs that touch occupants in just the right way, and at just the right time --- so they will connect with themselves, with each other, and with your design work in beneficial ways.