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How to Translate Project Design Research into Tangible Benefits for Occupants


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy


As an architectural designer, there are often many activities which you engage in at the preliminary stages of your architectural design projects. These project research phases can be optimized by knowing the right question to ask as you create your architectural design. In this micro-lecture you will learn exactly what that question is, along with how to use it as you engage in your preliminary design research. After all, the main idea is for you to translate your research into a beautiful design that speaks to occupants on many levels — helping them to meet their needs and reach their goals. Watch this micro-lecture to learn more about how to make this all happen within your architectural designs.



00:00 Maria Lorena Lehman: I’m Maria Lorena Lehman, Founder of Sensing Architecture and the MLL Design Lab. In today’s micro-lecture, we’re going to take a look at architectural design project research and how you can translate your architectural design project research into tangible benefits for your architectural building occupants.


00:27 MLL: So today we’re taking a look at how to translate project design research into tangible benefits for occupants. So we start off with your project, and for any given project there is a certain amount of research that must be done, and the question is: How do you engage in research before or during the preliminary stages of design for your architectural project? You probably engage in activities like client interviews, you may conduct surveys for future occupant usage, you might read many books or journals on the subjects related to your architectural design project. You might brainstorm with colleagues, you will probably travel to the architectural project site to learn more about the site’s context and culture, and I’m sure there are many other methods that may pop-up as they are customized for the particular project specifications and needs that may arise on a per project basis.

01:42 MLL: But the question is now that you have all of these project research methods, how do you fuse them together? How do you take the results of your research, fuse them together and funnel them into your orchestrated architectural design narrative? Now, narrative is important because it is with narrative that you begin to deconstruct your project research results and formulate them into an architectural space filled with moments that run their course over time that occupants can experience through their architectural journey.

02:26 MLL: So you go from project research to an architectural narrative that you construct and orchestrate, and then this leads you to a most important question which is: How does this architecture feed the senses to help your occupant uplift their quality of life? So you might wonder how you can make your architectural narrative feed your occupant’s senses to uplift their quality of life. And you can feed their senses through your architecture by engaging their different sensory modalities, and when you do this, you begin to construct a storyline that will take them closer to their goals, closer to meeting their needs, and this becomes your constructed architectural journey that your design ultimately becomes.

03:29 MLL: So to recap, when you’re engaging in project research, always keep the end result question in mind about how you feed your occupant’s senses to help uplift their quality of life. Knowing this end result question will better inform the way you do your project research, what questions you ask of others and what questions you ask of yourself as you engage in your architectural design.

04:00 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 re-think 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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