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Perception and Illusion in Architecture

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

Image Credit: © Greenbelka | Fotolia

Optical illusion can play a subtle role in everyday living – even affecting how architecture is constructed. Did you know that the Parthenon was designed to correct an illusion? Its outer columns are thicker at the top and angled inward at a slant so that from certain viewpoints the building appears to stand tall and straight.

Perception of place is important. It embeds within occupant memory and influences an occupant’s learned history or experience of that place. Because of perception architectural vantage points and approaches are often celebrated. For example, a massive exterior can add an element of surprise for that delicately floated interior space. 

Illusions that impact occupant perception can be cleverly used by architects in design. The key is to know that you are using them and to take full advantage as you exploit their influential qualities.

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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.

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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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