contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation

AHA MOMENTS, GUARANTEED.

Join Now to learn my HPA Design Formula to improve your architectural design concept formulations. This formula will help bring your mindset, skillset, and project design results to new heights. Plus, get the Design Insight Digest, FREE.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW

How Vertical Illusion Affects Perception in Architecture

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

Image Credit: © Ken Cole | Dreamstime

So, how steep is it? In the latest issue of SciAm Mind magazine an article describes how humans have trouble accurately determining height and slope of vertical inclines. To make matters more interesting, the article goes on to discuss how our perceptions are affected. It seems that if you are accompanied by friends (or supportive people) an incline will appear less steep. Conversely, if one is carrying a heavy load then the incline will appear steeper. Thus, the way inclines are interpreted is subjective.

Therefore, what does this mean for architectural design? Does it affect the way architects should design stairs, ADA ramps or escalators? What about atrium heights or even building heights? Also, are all architectural feature heights affected by the context which surrounds them? It is important to remember that extreme height and slope can often inspire a sense of awe. Sometimes designers want this, other times it can be too intimidating.

Let’s discuss ADA ramps. Understanding vertical illusion might help us understand how to design better inclines for easier and more inspired accessibility. Although such slopes are controlled by code, sometimes these sloped elevations seem to go on and on to match the neighboring stair grades. Such ADA accessible grades should be inviting –a positive occupant experience contributing the overall architectural design – not intimidating zig-zags that make one feel as if going through a sloped maze.

The vertical illusions perceived by all incline types should influence how architects design. Steep escalators, for instance, may need to stem from a platform that can house more people; thus, making the incline appear less steep and less intimidating. Conversely, to create a great feeling of awe, architects may want to embed a vertical element that stems from a more confined space so as to squeeze one’s eye upward – perhaps this is a vertical solely meant for observation instead of travel.

All in all, vertical illusions in architecture are important features. Occupants experience space and transitions through them. Considerate attention should be given to how people might perceive verticals by not only focusing on the vertical itself, but by also designing the spatial functions from which they stem. After all, even vertical sloped transitions are anticipatory – needing designed space that prepares one for their experience.

...

NEXT STEP: YOUR DESIGN PARADIGM SHIFT

...

TESTIMONIALS

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
read more testimonials
journal article collectionsresearch designs

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.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
From The Studio

How to Enhance Your Design with a Creative Spark

How often do you capture a "creative spark"? The key when modeling a creative spark is to create an MVM, a Minimum Viable Model, that quickly tests your creative spark. This initial physical model is a quick handmade prototype to help yield proof of concept: built to see if this creative spark has depth for further development.

From The Studio

Structure of Gravity: The Rise of Architecture

The above close-up section of a recent environmental drawing I created explores what I call the structure of gravity. This paradoxical term speaks to the bridging of architecture between the earth and sky – as built form rises upward as if to collaborate with the science of gravity through the structure of design expression.

Design Creativity

Do You Design Architecture "Beyond the Box"?

Developing the ability to evolve your design process is critical not only to your architectural brand, but also to the clients and building occupants your design projects serve. By formulating design concepts that push boundaries, you eliminate getting stuck or plateauing as you improve your design thinking and design doing from project to project.