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How to Design Environments beyond Function to Reach a New Level of Poetics

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

© Image Credit: Brigitte Werner | Pixabay

Designing occupant-centered architecture calls for designers to think about environments as providing more than mere comfort. For architectural design, this means striving to reach beyond functionality within your solution. Together with function, aesthetics and meaning must be fused. But how do these all work together to yield new kinds of poetics that innovate occupant experience to uplift quality of life for the better? It all begins with your initial design vision and subsequent translation of that vision into a poetic architectural concept design.

As you design an environment, it is helpful to ask yourself not only about how that space will meet occupant needs, but also about how that space can deepen your occupant’s understanding of themselves, each other, and/or their surrounding context. This line of questioning will help your architectural designs to stand more authentically, and more intentionally, as they serve occupants with highest level poetics. After all, it is with extraordinary poetics that architectural environments can expand beyond tolerable comfort, to help occupants grow through poetics that bring out the best in themselves. But what are high level poetics?

To achieve high level poetics, your environmental designs must rise above expected functionality in a way that elegantly expands and engages occupants. For example, you can create an office building that houses the productive activities of a company’s workers. Or you can design an office building that acts as a vehicle to nurture and support optimal productivity, and even creativity, as workers awaken their best selves as the environment becomes more than the sum of its parts. Architectural poetics works best as a true harmonization between architecture, nature, and engagement with the whole human.

As you design your next architectural project, I invite you to think about how your environment can rise above its own functionality – to yield a spatial construct that “speaks” to occupants on many levels.

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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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