contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation


Join Now to learn my HPA Design Formula to improve your architectural design concept formulations. This formula will help bring your mindset, skillset, and project design results to new heights. Plus, get the Design Insight Digest, FREE.


How Buildings Can Cooperate to Create Sensory Urban Design Benefits

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

‍Image Credit: © apinan | Fotolia

The Urban Fabric as an Interconnected Map

Today, many view buildings as stand-alone entities which exist separate from one another. Yet, the interconnections between such buildings are many. As building occupants travel between built environments during a typical day, they transition from space to space – and one building often picks up where the other left off. For example, one may leave their office building, go to the grocery store, and then travel home. Within a short time period, a building occupant experiences many building types, and each serves its purpose in helping to get occupant needs met.

For these initial reasons it makes sense to view the urban fabric as an interconnected map, and when doing so, buildings can begin to cooperate. This type of synergy between buildings creates a sensory urban fabric, where architectural environments can begin to respond to occupant engagements and to each other. After all, can a building become smarter if it learns about how occupant’s engage in another building within the city? Perhaps a work environment can learn from an occupant’s home environment to help reduce stress and foster greater creativity at work.

Cooperative Buildings Bring New Meaning to Transition

But how can architectural environments cooperate? Already, media channels such as the news broadcast traffic reports that help to alleviate congestion as people learn which roads to avoid. Also, media channels announce events and locations that are desirable to attend. Thus, there is a data stream that runs through urban areas. These streams help to attract or discourage certain behaviors from city citizens.

Architectural buildings can also push and pull information from one another, but in a more nuanced manner. Data can stream between buildings to help each function better, to help occupants attain greater well-being. The design of cooperation between buildings in urban areas calls for new ways of seeing built environments. And this new type of design interactivity and response should place occupants at the center. Just imagine if an office could respond differently for a worker coming from home in the morning as compared to a worker coming from a team meeting which took place in another office building. The former office could initiate and prep the environment for optimal post-meeting brainstorming, while the latter office could adapt its environment to help transition for the morning’s work ahead. The cooperative sensory urban design fabric would take the function of transition to a whole new level.

Extending Cooperation Beyond Your Own Building Design

When one environment can sense where its occupant is coming from, what its occupant needs to accomplish, and where its occupant will travel to next — entirely new ways to predict occupant need are born. Thus, built environments that cooperate with one another can better predict and meet occupant goals. Buildings can help each other fill in function gaps, where occupant need is understood at deeper levels. And when architects bring this way of seeing into their design process, they are extending beyond the boundary “walls” of the building they will construct. They are using city sites, cultures, and functional behaviors to further inform their design decision-making.

Cooperative buildings that stream behavioral data can occur before and after the design/construction process. The key is in knowing how to make sense of the information, to apply it for the benefit of the individual and the collective.





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
read more testimonials
journal article collectionsresearch designs

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.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
Urban Design

Urban Architecture – A Design Process of Co-Creation

To view urban architecture as the result of a design process of co-creation fundamentally shifts how it can be used to bring higher levels of thrivability to citizens. By integrating citizen ideas, behaviors, and experiential insights into how such urban systems and elements adapt, the city becomes a more joyous, peaceful, healthier, and inspiring place to live. This is how urban architecture can help cities to reach these higher levels – by pulling from the wisdom and ingenuity of its citizens through its buildings, that together act as a bridge that opens communication between people and city.

Design Process

Schematic Design – Using an Occupant-Centered Design Approach

Schematic design is the first stage of an architectural design project, and within this phase there are important milestones to get right that will greatly leverage the project’s results throughout the rest of its impending design phases. For example, by iteratively designing through various schematic prototypes, it becomes possible to optimize one’s design concept idea in a way that prevents future errors and expands the discovery of new design opportunities.

User Experience

How Architectural Poetics Improves Human Performance

With the design of each built environment, it is possible to help make the world a better place for individuals, the collective, and the planet. The key is to rise as architectural designers to create poetic architecture, not mere status quo buildings. You see, it is with poetic architecture that environmental design can awaken potential to nurture the self-actualization of those it serves.