contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation


Join Now to learn my HPA Design Formula to improve your architectural design concept formulations. This formula will help bring your mindset, skillset, and project design results to new heights. Plus, get the Design Insight Digest, FREE.


How Counterintuitive Sensory Design Ideas Fuel Innovation

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

Image Credit: © Xresch | Pixabay


As an architect, it is important to be aware of the potential positive and negative effects of emerging technologies as these become ubiquitously embedded within environments. For this reason, the concept design stage of a project is an ideal phase within which to creatively and strategically harness the positive benefits such technologies bring. For example, have you dedicated time within your design process to innovate the place you are designing with a “technology focus” that creates new kinds of poetic experiences to uplift quality of life for your building occupants? Technology is an important factor to integrate properly within your design, particularly as you strive to also poetically harmonize nature with architecture to feed the human senses through design.


A unique way to think about the integration of emerging technology within architectural space is to consider how technology can create counterintuitive sensory moments. Just imagine how augmented reality will change the way people perceive and understand their own physical world around them. Suddenly, the laws of the physical world (like gravity, materiality, and/or data) will be sensed in entirely new ways – from new perspectives, and with deeper insight. For example, if wearing augmented reality glasses, a person may see more profoundly into an environment; thus, changing the way they cognitively process, emotionally feel, and behaviorally respond to that space. The virtual layers that fuse with the physical world create new kinds of experiences – even some counterintuitive sensory events that provide unique value for people.

The reason it is important for you as a designer to think about the counterintuitive effects of technology when fused with architectural spaces, is because this way of thinking can be leveraged to create new poetic innovations. As you design, strive to think beyond how technology “as-is” affects the physical world. To do this, design in a way that guides technology to help people sense the physical world in innovative ways that turn sensory contradiction into sensory convergence that expands what people can do with what they perceive.


As new technologies continue to proliferate into the future, designers can guide the way they are developed, to optimize positive effects and minimize or eliminate negative effects. By pushing your creative design process to think counterintuitively (in a way that brings together seemingly disparate parts), you position yourself to discover greater design breakthroughs that innovate poetic architectural experience. And when this occurs, people benefit because technology is expanding upon what makes life great, instead of hindering or removing what contributes to a human life that thrives. I invite you to consider how you could use an emerging technology in a way that counterintuitively expands what the physical world can do to make life even better through 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
read more testimonials
journal article collectionsresearch designs

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.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
Urban Design

Urban Architecture – A Design Process of Co-Creation

To view urban architecture as the result of a design process of co-creation fundamentally shifts how it can be used to bring higher levels of thrivability to citizens. By integrating citizen ideas, behaviors, and experiential insights into how such urban systems and elements adapt, the city becomes a more joyous, peaceful, healthier, and inspiring place to live. This is how urban architecture can help cities to reach these higher levels – by pulling from the wisdom and ingenuity of its citizens through its buildings, that together act as a bridge that opens communication between people and city.

Design Process

Schematic Design – Using an Occupant-Centered Design Approach

Schematic design is the first stage of an architectural design project, and within this phase there are important milestones to get right that will greatly leverage the project’s results throughout the rest of its impending design phases. For example, by iteratively designing through various schematic prototypes, it becomes possible to optimize one’s design concept idea in a way that prevents future errors and expands the discovery of new design opportunities.

User Experience

How Architectural Poetics Improves Human Performance

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.