How to Design Architecture for Occupant Memory
When Memory Precedes Experience
Have you ever considered how you would like your architectural environments to be remembered? Yes, there are certain famous buildings that are recognized in an instant, and at times the “images” of such buildings spread throughout the world in iconic fashion. In this sense, a building can become so famous that people have an impression of the building before they ever personally experience it for themselves. The memory precedes the experience.
But what happens when the experience of place creates the memory? And how can this influence and strengthen the way you design? You may ask yourself: How do I want people to feel after they experience the spaces I design? Will they feel inspired, happy, safe, or even like they grew in some way? By reverse-engineering from the resulting memory you would like your building occupants to gain, you can orchestrate environmental features as a fluid journey that fosters such emotions. This is how architecture becomes “greater than the sum of its parts” – by going beyond only meeting short-term needs, to also inspire thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in people that uplift life for themselves and others.
Personalizing Memory to Uplift Quality of Life
What will your architecture help its occupants to accomplish? And how will it do this?
Buildings work in conjunction with other design innovations. Social media through mobile devices and wearable technologies are just a few of the ways architecture can work to help its occupants improve their own potential. You see, as architecture increasingly engages with occupants in real-time, such environments will be able to personalize experience to their needs and goals. And the more personalized architecture becomes, the more “tuned” the memories it creates will be. In this way, architecture becomes an active player in its occupants’ lives – as it engages with them in entirely new ways.
The activities that take place within an environment become a part of its memory. And the stories told about those experiences become a part of the collective memory of that place. So as you design, think about how the thoughts, feelings, and actions of each individual who experiences your space will contribute to its collective memory. What innovation will your architecture spark: within an individual, a collective, or a culture? And what memory will these innovations lead toward, that help to make the world a better place?