When multi-sensory design is properly injected into an architect’s design process, the entire project benefits. Suddenly, it becomes possible to solve for those initial programmatic requirements while still being able to go above and beyond so your building can also help its occupants to achieve highest levels of well-being. The key to making this all work is to use multi-sensory design to tap into human emotion through the built environment you create.
Developing your architectural design through various stages of drawing, modeling, and simulation are all critical to achieving wonderful environments that help occupants to thrive. But, your designs can be made better through more detailed testing of different situations likely to affect your design, and subsequently its occupants.
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.
Architectural design emphasis is often placed on productivity, particularly for workplace environments. However, an increasingly important goal for such environments is to also foster occupant workplace creativity. After all, when productivity and creativity work in unison, then greater innovative momentum can be achieved.
When it comes to sensory design, much emphasis is placed on architectural interiors that aim to uplift occupant well-being. And this is critical to get right within a design project. But what about the architectural exterior? How can one use sensory design to create exteriors that foster the right occupant journey?
Smell offers a type of wayfinding that not only becomes part of our experience of a space, but also serves to prompt or guide behavior within that space. A smell can act as a boundary which signals what lies ahead, or what has just been experienced.
Data mining can be useful for not only healthcare architecture, but also for other building types. Just imagine how offices, schools, universities, stores, restaurants and even gyms can improve by becoming better listeners. Much can be learned from the conversations shared on social media platforms like Twitter.
Yes, many factors converge into an architectural design concept – everything from site analysis and sustainability, to contextual and cultural interplay are at work within your design concept formulation. And, it is within your design concept that all of these solutions must converge, where your design solves for core challenges and provides optimum occupant experience.
Designers often ask “how does an environment impact the sense of taste”? Well, a tangible example of this can be observed within restaurant designs. After all, a restaurant atmosphere can set up expectations of how a meal will taste, and it can impact how those tastes are perceived, enjoyed and remembered.
With the dawning of online retail and the displacement or forced evolution of places like bookstores and malls, designers are beginning to use sensory design to win out (or at least stay in the running) against their online competitors. You see, such brick-and-mortar retail stores are tapping into what the senses can yield from design, to make shopping in their business a true experience. And this experience for the senses is what limits online retailers today.
Poetics is that moment in architecture when elements yield more than the sum of their parts. But what does this really mean? What is it that gets “yielded”? It could be, perhaps, the way architecture is able to “touch” its occupants on deeper emotional or spiritual levels. It could also be the way architecture can convey beauty together with meaning that leaves one feeling more fulfilled.
To help you better predict occupant need, which can often be a daunting task given many of today’s complex programmatic requirements, — sensory design can be used to help you unravel the “occupant need” architectural challenge.
The relationship between architecture and the human body obviously has a long history. And the questions that arise when exploring this relationship are more than simply about finding the proper dimensions and placements within architectural space to “accommodate” a person and their behaviors within it.
When do buildings feel just right? As your occupants live, work and play within your designed spaces, thermal comfort becomes an important quality that can make or break an environment quickly. Often, building designers strive to keep room temperatures comfortable throughout the building — but all too often, room temperatures fluctuate uncontrollably from room to room.
Each nuance that a building emits comes together to become more than the sum of its parts. And often, that sum can be said to be an inherent character that a building exudes. But where does such character come from? And how do we know that a building has personality?
Creating the notion of a “scene” in your design is a good place to start. Within a scene, you can emphasize color, size, or shape which, through narrative, may take on deeper meaning about why it is present. Just as a store’s signage can create “place” in a street-scape, the scene which you create out of architectural features will call upon occupants to remember because of three reasons: placement, context, and mental image.
Within architecture, there are many places where occupant choice surfaces. Every time an occupant makes a decision on where to go, what to focus on, or what to feel — they are interacting with your architecture, and making decisions based off of it. So, why is occupant choice so important?
The important thing for you to remember here is that you are always setting or meeting expectations for your occupants as they travel about your building. You’re setting them up for value, and your goal is to reach that value for them with your design. Thus, as you design, you should always think about what you are showing your occupants about the perceived value of your building.
Buildings often rely upon wayfinding design to give their occupants a sense of building orientation, and to perhaps spark that mental map that tells them where they have been as well as pointing them in the direction of where they need to go. And while wayfinding signage and other directional elements found within buildings can be helpful, I do think that a good architectural design should not be dependent upon such signage.
As architects, we often try to design and think of buildings as vessels which engage with their occupants on many levels — including the emotional ones. And of course, those designs which connect with their occupants on emotional levels, are the designs that often have the most profound effect. Yet frequently, designers use their “instincts” to orchestrate novel and harmonious building design features that will serve to not only inspire, but also to connect with people in profound ways.
An augmented reality exhibit is quite inspiring to see because it shows how designers can push certain boundaries by combining a unique recipe between technologies, materials and their own creative talents.
Have you ever done a quality control design test of your building after it’s built? If so, how do you do it? And what do you do with the results?
Another word for immersion is “absorption”, also defined as “the state of being deeply engaged or involved. In light of this definition, I must say that most often reaching the proper level and state of immersion while you design user experience in a building can work wonders for creating an equally immersive environment for your occupants.
How do you, as an architect, get to the bottom of what your occupants really need and want? Do you do this mostly be talking with them? Presenting different architectural design schemes to see which one they like best? Or do you study their behavior to understand what moves them with regard to the things that cannot be expressed by mere words?
One thing is for sure, computers are spreading. They seem to be everywhere. They’re getting smaller, more helpful and their interfaces are getting more intuitive. It’s no wonder that the surrounding environments which inhabit them now often allow for more mobility, productivity and collaboration. But what about creativity? It’s an important factor — and one that should be addressed head-on.
As an architect, you probably spend much of your time designing and preparing for programmatic functions and the aesthetic beauty to be experienced by future building occupants. But, did you know that your design ultimately is “interpreted” into what is frequently called the “mind’s eye”? Simply stated, this is a mental map that is said to be responsible for your own personal view-point and how you perceive the world.
For architects, it is common to be concerned with the elimination of sound, otherwise referred to as noise. Some hospitals are filled with noise that keep patients from sleeping “soundly” (pun intended) and some schools are bombarded by urban noise that interferes with learning.
When it is a great experience, going to a museum can teach us, delight us and inspire us; however, a lot of effort goes into a museum exhibit design. As architects, we can learn a lot by understanding the ingredients that make such designs so successful. It is not as simple as you might think.
When an occupant experiences a building, they immediately become involved in an array of overlapping processes that all contribute to their experience — architectural psychology focuses on such connections and can be applied to all building types.
Architecture is like music, with ability to arouse specific emotions and other reactions at particular moments in time. To arouse sentiment is a delicate task, and the key is to engage occupants. Human mood, behavior and physiology will all benefit from such an awakening.
This quote highlights why sensory design is indispensable. The act of enjoying the tea is fostered by the teacup just as sensory architecture enhances occupant experience. Both the teacup and sensory design must be sensitive to human needs.
Understanding principles about environmental psychology will help architects to design with greater awareness. The following are ten important questions inspired by some of the major themes that make up the study of environmental psychology.
Architectural building can more truly relate to the surrounding culture through all of the senses. Addressing historic, traditional or present-day cultural patterns can make a work of architecture a success when the senses are not ignored.
When traveling through space you use certain cues to help you navigate. Your senses help determine things like orientation, distance and direction. During navigation, many moments arise for decision-making and your brain is a key player during this process.
With the computer revolution, humans are relying more and more on machines to make up a piece of their “extended mind”. As such tools permeate human environments; I can’t help but think of how the notion of an “extended mind” may influence architecture.
Have you ever toyed with the notion of designing a space strictly based on sound quality? Perhaps acoustics have played a major role in certain projects where sound formulas served to construct space. But — what about “aural architecture”? It becomes interesting to understand what happens to architecture beyond physics.
Have you ever felt time speed up or slow down? Estimating the passage of time is not exactly a precise endeavor for us humans. Sitting through a long and boring film, for instance, can seem to take an eternity, while having fun at a party could make time fly.
You enter a store. It is probably not on your mind that its design layout was put together to optimize purchases made by you. You shop, you browse and; hopefully, you buy. Yet still, stores are doing whatever they can to market for what they call “the moment of truth” – that moment you decide to reach for your item. As a designer, does the collection of these moments ultimately yield the success of your design?
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)…
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.
There are a lot of architectural design firms out there, and everyone thinks their designs are unique. But clients are not just buying “good-looking” and unique designs that are functional; they care about building designs that bring value to their bottom line — helping their building occupants thrive.