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Top 3 Techniques for Learning from Your Own Architectural Designs

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

‍Image Credit: © spiral media | Fotolia

The coming together of your architectural elements will impact occupants, to either help them or hinder them. Of course, when you design, your intention is to help occupants through the environment you create. But how can you prevent your design from being used differently, or from becoming just another status quo building? The key is to understand how the behavior of your architectural designs impact your occupants.

The following are three simple, yet profound ways for you to gain deep insight into how your design process creations affect those who use them:

1) Conduct surveys and interviews: This technique can help you to better understand the effects of your design work before your building is constructed, and once it is in use. Before your building is constructed, you can research other building types or people similar to your future building occupants by conducting surveys and interviews. This will help you to make effective design decisions as you create the environment. Another time during which you can conduct surveys and interviews is after your building has been constructed and is in use. By delving into how your building is experienced, you are able to take this feedback to your future design works.

Bonus Tip: Do not forget to use social media as a means by which you can survey and interview occupants.

2) Observe your design in action: Once your building design has been constructed, it is wise to set time for you to observe your design as it is being used by occupants. And before you observe, plan what behaviors or uses you’re looking for within the environment. For instance, you can ask yourself questions as you observe, including: does my design hinder the occupants in any way? In other words, look for both the strengths and weaknesses (pain points) of your design.

Bonus Tip: If during observation, your design is being used by an occupant in a different way — then ask that occupant why they are using it in this different way. You will likely be amazed to discover this occupants’ insights.

3) Experience your design for a time: As you design, it is most inevitable that you will be creating new spatial experiences. But how well are you able to connect the design visualized idea to the design real-life experience? A great way to do this is to set some time for you to live or work within the environment you create. In this way, you will feel whether your ideas do what you thought they would do. You may discover that an idea fell short. Or, you may discover that an idea works better than you thought it would.

Bonus Tip: Be sure to also think of ways your design ideas can improve for your next project. Personally experiencing your design over time is a great way to figure out how to improve upon its many aspects.

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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 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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