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How Architectural Poetics Improves Human Performance

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

Image Credit: © MiguelMay | Pixabay


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.

Three key architectural effects impact building occupants through highly poetic architecture that converges highest forms of beauty, function, and meaning. When designed properly, these three poetic design effects impact people for the better as follows:


  • Inspiration to Take Action: Yes, an architectural environment can inspire an occupant to take action – to engage in healthier, more beneficial behaviors, to help that person meet their desired goals, overcome challenges, and self-actualize as a human being. As architectural environments become increasingly interactive and adaptive in their responsiveness (due to the proliferation of new technologies), architects can design architecture to engage and evoke occupant response to “tune” with a person’s lifestyle in a way that helps them take on healthier habits and choices.
  • Deeper Experiential Meaning: A highly poetic environment yields a deeper experience for those journeying through its narrative. This occurs because the environment “touches” a person at more levels of occupant experience which include the physiological, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and even the spiritual. You see, a mere status quo building will negatively affect a person on these levels, but a successfully designed poetic architecture guides occupants on a narrative journey that deepens insight into themselves, their relationships with others, and their relationship with their surrounding context – including the planet’s natural environment.
  • Heightened Mindfulness Moments: A great benefit of poetically designed architecture is experienced in how it can heighten moments of mindfulness, where one awakens to their surroundings in real-time through the full spectrum of their senses. This type of poetic architectural effect can be quite beneficial as such poetics help patients in a hospital to heal, students in a school to learn, and workers in an office building to create productively.


As you design architecture, it is important to strive for highest level poetics with aim to awaken occupants through their own self-actualization. Again, such poetics work through inspiring action, deepening meaningful experience, and heightening moments of mindfulness. It is time to think laterally about how to create the architectural features and details within your current and future environmental designs to apply these concepts that will help to make the world an even better place by helping people to become the best version of themselves.





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 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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