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Get Design Insight from Roomba-Embedded Building Air Quality Maps

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

Image Credit: © tr.robinson | Flickr

So often, as an architect, attention is paid to the visual senses as masses, materiality, and even lighting are carefully chosen for a particular design vision. But how do you as an architect target more intangible things, like building air quality?

I read an article recently that describes one way to track patterns of building air qualitychanges within a room. You see, by using a sensor-embedded Roomba, researchers were able to “map” any detrimental changes in a room’s air quality as the Roomba traveled about its path. So, the next question becomes — what to do with such a map?

First, I would say that air quality within an environment is quite important. And by understanding more about the quality of air within a room’s design, you may be able to spot leaks,off-gasing, or even toxins that invisibly impact your occupant’s health. While using the Roomba is a novel idea, it does invite one to think about what other devices within a room can track and monitor patterns that would otherwise go undetected during lifelong daily occupant use.

The key is to think about the aging process of a building, the changing needs of your occupant, or even the evolving surroundings of your built environment that may well affect the quality of its interior. Thus, your built designed environments need to be maintained and optimized for occupant health.

Thus, I invite you to consider what happens to your designed spaces once built? Do they maintain that “healthy” initial state that they had when they were first constructed? Do you or your occupants have a way to check the more imperceptible living conditions of that space while it is being inhabited? And how might you go beyond the Roomba solution described above, to make sure your design keeps up with your or your occupant’s standards?





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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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