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How to Create an Architectural Meta-Experience

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

Image Credit: © WikimediaImages | Pixabay

DESIGN FOR THE META-EXPERIENCE

What if an architectural environment could change, learn, and adapt to help occupants as they live, work, heal, or play within a given space? Furthermore, what if such an environment allowed visitors to leave their own “mark” within its design fabric, so future occupants could perceive what came before? Of course, there are times when this may not be desirable, but what about situations where an occupant can make a positive difference upon a space by leaving their “imprint”?

Just imagine that a building could act as a piece of paper, where occupants could inscribe or fold their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. How might this change the building’s “sense of place”? In a museum or memorial, such an adaptive sensory environment could foster such occupant exchanges. For example, an occupant could leave their “imprint” upon a memorial that lasts for the next several decades. This would speak volumes to those future visitors that experience the architectural design moment. This becomes a meta-experience – where one can perceive how the memorial was perceived by those that came before.

THE TRANSCENDENT VEHICLE

Such a malleable architectural environment, would work as if it were a fluid sculpture – able to absorb and preserve a “fingerprint” while still being able to respond to current and future needs and goals. In essence, this creates an architectural environment of collaboration, where built form invites occupants to interact with it in a more (semi)permanent way. Thus, people would respond not only to the design itself, but also to the response of those that experienced the design and left their “imprint” upon it.

If presented with such an architectural design experience, what would you do? What would you “say”? What kind of “mark” would you leave within the space? Would you create a “message” that future visitors could respond to? Or would you prefer to leave without ever making your “mark”?

As you design, think of how your building occupants will interact with your architecture. Do they do so anonymously? Or do they leave some kind of “mark” that others can benefit from into the future? You may find it beneficial to ask yourself: How can my architectural design help occupants to communicate better with each other (both in real-time, and over long stretches of time)? After all, architecture is not simply a container. It is a vehicle that helps us to transcend our physical experience into deeper, more meaningful, moments.

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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 an award-winning 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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