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Fusing Science with Poetics for “Design Beauty” Innovation


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

‍Image Credit: © worldwide_stock | Fotolia

Scientific Understanding and Poetic Meaning

In the design of architecture, you must design for both types of understanding – the scientific and the poetic. There is a point where occupants will grasp scientific meaning above poetic, and vice versa. But at what moment does scientific understanding fuse with poetic meaning? And can this moment be called "beautiful"?

Nature's beauty can inspire your own architecture. For instance, you may frame a particular window to capture a sunrise each day. Your occupant may grasp the scientific foundation behind how your window has been designed for this type of solar alignment, while they may also grasp the powerful poetics of such a sunrise streaming into their particular space. Scientific understanding, when coupled with poetic meaning, harnesses architecture's positive effects – particularly when timed to coordinate with particular building functions.

As you design your architectural concept, it may help you to think of design features and their materials as exuding both scientific and poetics effects. For the scientific, one may question how a particular design was achieved. While for the poetic, one may question how a particular effect was captured. In either case, the scientific understanding when coupled with poetic meaning leads can lead to amazing beauty.

The equation:

Scientific Understanding + Poetic Meaning = Design Beauty

Challenging Your Scientific of Poetic Design Bias

By incorporating the above equation into your mindset and design process, you will be able to think of architectural elements and integrations as having multiple dimensions: the scientific and the poetic. This will help your scientific or poetic design bias to improve. In other words, if you focus primarily upon poetics – it may help you to push your design idea further by exploring what scientific understanding can serve as its foundation. And if you focus primarily upon scientific understanding – it may help you to push your design idea further by exploring what poetic meaning can enhance your scientific foundation.

You may like to think of it this way...

Poetically, one can observe or ride on a sailboat and this can be a very poetic experience. Conversely, one can actually navigate and sail the sailboat - making this a more scientific understanding of sailing. Thus, a sailboat is beautiful as it can be understood from these two angles. As such, architectural beauty can be understood as occupants experience its poetics from moment to moment, and can appreciate the science which re-presents what poetic design expresses from design to design.

In the end, beautiful architecture is by no means only limited to being understood in terms of only science or poetics. But these two frameworks can go a long way toward helping your designs achieve more profound benefits for occupants. Beauty has many forms, and it is up to you as an architectural designer to innovate upon them.


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 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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