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A New Spin on Sense Technologies Can Boost Your Design’s Effectiveness

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © -Marlith- | Flickr

There are many times on this site where I write about new sense technologies that are evolving and making their way into the mainstream, and I often encourage you as an architect to think about unique and creative ways that you can integrate this technology into your design to make it better for your occupants — this is a distinction from simply using technology “just for the sake of using it”, but rather to use it when the time and place is appropriate so it can bring newfound innovation to your design vision.

There are other times in many of my articles where I discuss incorporating a “just-in-time” design intervention, where you strategically place something within your design to improve the lives of your occupants at just the right moment — such as helping them to achieve a goal. Now, this is important because when you unite the power of what sense technologies can do with this notion of a “just-in-time intervention”, you have the ability to engage with your occupant in real time, and if done in the right way you can really make a positive difference in your occupants’ life.

See a “Just-In-Time” Design Intervention in Action

In the following video, you will see a design group demonstrating what can happen when technology and design ingenuity merge. You will see a simple, yet great example of a “just-in-time intervention”, where this group of designers have transformed a simple staircase that sits next to an escalator — all in hopes of seeing if they can get more people to use the stairs instead of the escalator. Of course, this would create a positive impact on those that use the stairs, since they would gain potential health benefits due to more daily exercise or even potential increase in speed in getting from point A to point B. Nevertheless, I think this video is a “must see” because it shows you very clearly how technology can be integrated into environments to really change and make positive impact on the way people live.

The following is the video called “Piano Stairs”:


Don’t Underestimate the Power of Fun that Sense Technologies Bring

As you can see in the video, there is also a certain element of fun that the designers had when executing this project. And that is not a bad thing. There are times where the element of fun can also be used to boost the way you incorporate sense technologies and such “just-in-time” interventions — making them more appealing to your building occupants, capturing more of their attention, focus and tapping into their inner motivations.

While it is good to always assess the more serious sides to architectural or occupant problems, do not underestimate the power of incorporating “play” in your design. If done correctly, in an elegant and ingenious manner, the element of play will take you and your occupants far as it has the power to help your architecture better connect with its occupants — thus increasing its power to better be able to help your occupants.

So, be sure to think back to this video example when, for instance, you might be trying to encourage a particular building occupant behavior. Use your building design as a vehicle by which you can invite your occupants to engage. And do not forget that you can appeal to a multitude of their senses to do so, including their sense of play and fun, if presented at just the right time.





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 multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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