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How Poetics of Place Determines Level of Impact

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

Image Credit: © Stokpic | Pixabay


As an architect designing environments, it is important to strive for highest level design poetics. This allows one’s project to engage building occupants more fully. Yes, a building can meet a certain level of function and aesthetic requirements – and this may serve occupants by providing for their basic needs. But how can your architecture do more for occupants? To help them in new ways, and to engage them with an experience that leaves them better off because of their interaction with your building?


When an architecture is designed with a high level of poetics, the level of positive impact upon its occupants increases. This is because function, aesthetics, and meaning converge to uplift occupants’ lives in new ways – either moment by moment as they experience the environment and/or after they have left the environment but are transformed due to their experience within its spaces.

To help you better understand how to use poetics to heighten architectural experience, just imagine how a staircase can be designed. For instance, does the staircase only serve the function of getting an occupant from one building level to the next? Or does the staircase also provide an experience that transcends travel? You many wonder how a staircase can reach poetic heights in this way. For this, it is important to note that a staircase can be used to transition a person from one space to another, as they process what they experienced on one level and prepare for what they will experience on the next level. Or, perhaps the staircase evokes a unique experience in its own right as the journey an occupant takes through it behaviorally guides them, intellectually teaches them, or emotionally inspires them. As you can see, the staircase gains greater, more positive, impact when it reaches highest poetic realms.


What if your entire architectural environment could work as an orchestrated poetic experience of the highest quality. What positive impact would you want to make upon your building occupants through this architectural experience? A key to achieving this type of heightened poetic quality within your design is to think and create architecture through a multi-sensory design methodology. After all, when an architecture’s material, technological, and natural stimuli are synergistically designed to feed occupant senses, then you are taking important steps toward reaching higher level architectural poetics.

I invite you to ask yourself: Does my architecture reach poetic heights in a way that positively engages and impacts building occupants for both short and long term benefits? And what do building occupants gain after experiencing your buildings? Is it merely a place where they can function? Or are these environments forming places that uplift the human mind, body, and spirit? With proper multi-sensory design, you can achieve the latter – an architecture that transcends through poetics.





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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