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Building Comfort in Architecture Isn’t Just About Temperature Control

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

Image Credit: © Jeremy Levine Design | Flickr

Comfort in architecture can relate to many aspects of how a building gets designed. It’s not always just about temperature control — the issue that gets so much attention anytime building comfort gets mentioned. In fact, building comfort has a lot to do with how an architectural built form engages an occupant through all of their senses, particularly when considering the harmonization between them…like with factors of lighting, materiality, sound, and so on.

Ideally, building comfort also includes your architectural ability to foresee occupant need before they even know they need it. This boost in performance will likely have your occupants’ say to themselves… “I didn’t realize I needed this. But now that I have it, I do not want to be without it.” Through this lens, building comfort transcends the senses as it evolves to trigger aspects like occupant cognition, physiology and/or emotion.

Of course, this does not mean that you are to design extraneous and superfluous elements within your building that will not make a significant difference in your occupants’ end-goals. After all, it is not meeting their needs if you add-on to a building design in a manner that raises building cost and provides no real value. Instead, you should concentrate on meeting your occupants’ needs by increasing your design’s leverage points — and one way to do this is by pulling what sensory design can do within architecture to bring greater value to your occupants’ present day and future needs.

Thus, I invite you to consider building comfort as you design — where through a deeper lens you are able to understand how your architectural elements tie together to yield a design that meets those occupant needs that they themselves did not know they needed. This means that it is up to you as the architect to understand what your design can do for your occupant in its ability to meet their needs, either as they themselves change and grow, or as they realize more needs once they embark on a particular project, new lifestyle behavior, or simply begin to use your new design.

Building comfort through this light will allow you to compose the elements of your design, as opposed to seeing them as separate elements where each meets a respective occupant need. Instead, you should see building comfort as a fusion of architectural elements that come together to complement one another and to form relationships with each other that make the design as a whole stronger for your building occupant.

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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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