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How Kinetic Architecture Fuels New Perceptions of Nature


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy


Kinetic architecture can use its transience to work with nature in ways that fuel new perceptions for building occupants. Using two key methods, kinetic architecture can work through perception and through behavior to re-present nature to occupants in ways they may never have experienced it before. In this micro-lecture, both perception through architecture and behavior upon architecture are explored as a means by which to spark innovative design concepts that provide for awe-inspiring occupant experience. Use this micro-lecture to jumpstart your creative thinking about what kinetic architecture can do to help occupants better harmonize with nature.



00:05 Maria Lorena Lehman: I’m Maria Lorena Lehman, Founder of Sensing Architecture. And in today’s video, I’m going to teach you how kinetic architecture fuels new perceptions of nature for building occupants. You see, kinetic architecture can act as a go-between when it comes to nature and the occupants that use your architecture. By embedding or integrating kinetics into your architectural design, you can reframe nature’s behaviors and perceptions of nature for your building occupant to experience. In order to do this, you may notice how occupants often experience nature through architecture, particularly when they are experiencing the interior of a built space, for instance. In this case, an occupant must perceive through architecture to experience the qualities of nature. And when you add kinetics into this diagram, you will notice that nature can be re-presented anew to building occupants.

01:30 MLL: For instance, if within a kinetic architecture, a window frames nature and it moves or even changes color, what the occupant experiences as they look out that window will change. The perception of the nature that they experience through the window will be different as the kinetic architecture transiently changes.

01:55 MLL: Now, another way to view the interactions and new perceptions and experiences between kinetic architecture, nature, and occupant, can be seen when you take a look at behavior. Nature can interact or impact kinetic architecture, and the occupant can experience that nature as they experience the kinetic architecture anew — as it transiently changes. You see, an example of this can be found in nature when wind, for example, interacts with a kinetic form. The occupant then may experience viewing or hearing the kinetic form as it moves in the wind, and this creates a new perception of one of nature’s qualities, which is wind. So as you design, think about these two different diagrammatic formulas, if you will. Think about how transience and movement within your architecture, impacts how your occupants experience and perceive other elements like nature.

03:13 MLL: In one case, occupants perceive through kinetic architecture to transiently experience nature. And in the other case, nature behaves through kinetic architecture so that occupants can transiently experience the qualities of nature and the architecture. So, thinking in this way may help to spark certain new design concepts that integrate kinetics into your architecture in new and innovative ways that can help occupants reconnect with nature anew.


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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