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Communicating Building Value Early-On May Boost Occupant Enjoyment

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

‍Image Credit: © Wolfgang Staudt | Flickr

A recent study was done, mentioned in The Economist article entitled Pricing and the Brain: Hitting the Spot, where actual changes within the brain occur that substantiate this: If told something is more valuable, then a person actually enjoys it more. As the article explains, there may be something to this involving expectation. So how does this relate to architectural design?

Well, what if upon entering a building, someone told you that it was designed by a very famous and prestigious architect? Do you think you would enjoy your experience within that building more than if you didn’t know this fact? Perhaps you would pay more attention to the building, its details, and engage with it more than if you had never known about its renowned creator. Would you take extra time while within the building to savor it? My guess is that the average person probably would.

But the implication of this notion of heightened perceived value affecting architectural enjoyment doesn’t end there.

What about the exterior of your building? Do you think this might have an effect upon how well-received and enjoyable your architecture is for occupants? Just as when proper marketing can boost product enjoyment, as explained in The Economist article, perhaps the way you “guide” your occupants into your building plays a role in their enjoyment of it once inside.

Within this way of thinking, your building exterior becomes ever more important as it sets the stage — and your occupants’ expectations about their impending experience. An exterior that is well designed will automatically send triggers to your occupant which let them know that what awaits them on the inside will be of equal or higher value for them. And since you would be setting this high expectation, it is important to get the design of the interior right — so as to not fall short of reaching their expectations.

So, 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.  And I’m not talking just about the actual cost of the building, but also the design attention given to details that indicate it is a building design of high quality: a one-of-a-kind and valuable architectural experience.

Additionally, your clients will like this way of thinking as well, since they often want to promote some sort of experiential enjoyment within their buildings. The key is to understand how to design your work so that it communicates value to occupants early-on in their experience. This will help to ensure that their experience will be one of enjoyment, if their expectations are met by your design.


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 an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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