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Register for the FREE Special Encore Webinar Presentation that will teach you three techniques for creating extraordinary design concepts that outsmart problem complexity.


How To Design Your Architecture For Occupant Growth and Change


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy


A critical question to ask yourself as an architect is: How will my building grow and change with and for its occupants? You see, an architecture needs to meet occupant needs and goals as they change, and in this video I will show you key ways that this can be achieved — so your building is one that is most relevant and valuable for its occupants.



00:01 MLL: I’m Maria Lorena Lehman, Founder of Sensing Architecture. And in this micro lecture I’m going to teach you about how your architecture can grow and change with your occupants’ ever changing needs and goals. So your architecture will go from being a vessel to being more of a hub. Where when it is a vessel it is more of an observer, and when it’s a hub, it’s more of an active participant in your occupants’ lives.


00:36 MLL: So how does your architecture grow with its occupants? That is, your occupants have needs, and your architecture adjusts to meet those needs to help them reach their goals. And the question becomes once an occupant has reached their goal while experiencing your architecture, their goal might change. So they have a next goal. And the question becomes, how does your architecture adjust to meet the ever changing and growing needs and goals of its occupants?

01:14 MLL: So you can see here that we have needs, occupant needs that change. And this gives way to architecture which adjusts. And then, this leads to occupant goals that are reached. And then, needs change once again. So the interesting thing that happens with this cycle, is that architecture adjusts. This happens because architecture senses occupants’ needs as they change, and the adjustment can occur in many ways.

01:55 MLL: Three key ways that they can occur is through physical change where the architecture adjusts physically to meet occupant need and growth of goals. Another way is when architecture includes heightened poetics to help inspire, motivate or educate occupants to help them reach their goals and meet their needs. And a third key way that architecture can adjust to changing occupant needs, is through its engagement methods. That is, the methods that uses to retain occupant attention to help them reach their goals.

02:38 MLL: So as you can see here, needs change, and architecture adjusts by sensing those needs that are changing for occupants. And architecture then actuates and helps occupants to reach their goal. And then the interesting thing that happens is that occupants transform between the time that they reach their goal and they determine their next goal or need. A transformation occurs. Occupant learning has happened, and improvement follows suit.

03:19 MLL: So the question for you as an architect is, is your building a vessel which holds occupants’ activities within it, or is your building a hub which pro-actively is involved with its occupants’ growth? In the first scenario where your building is a vessel, the architecture may act more as an observer. And the second scenario where your architecture is a hub, the building may act more as a participant.

03:52 MLL: If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to join my “Design Insight Newsletter”. And you will also get my book “Bringing Architecture To The Next Level” for free. Discover how you can shift your mindset to reach breakthrough ideas, meet and predict occupant need using sensory design, leverage your design process so you can get more with less, and rethink new technologies to unleash your innovative edge. To join now and access your book, simply visit


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 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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