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Top 6 Ways Building Function Is Amplified By Digital Screens


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © Casbr | Flickr

Just about everywhere you go, there is a digital screen within the built environment. Such digital screens can be in the form of television screens, computer screens or even interactive window screens. You see, each of the latter acts as a focal point or anchor within a space — sometimes detracting from building function, and other times adding to it. The critical factor becomes not only where such digital screens are placed, but also how they are used. As such, building function can benefit if they are used strategically.

Digital screens within different building types provide different functions. And yes, such building function can be amplified by such screens. The following is a list of six building types — explaining how they can use digital screens to improve, augment, and amplify the positive effects of the very functions they foster within.

  • 1) MUSEUM DIGITAL SCREEN USE: INTERACTIVITY — Within museums, computer screens or video screens can be used to educate. And they can take education to whole new level by allowing for interactivity. Many museums use digital screens to to do just this, and the result is likely better teaching, better retention of taught concepts, and an overall more enjoyable experience for visitors. By allowing digital screens to “bring home” concepts — visitors can enjoy more personalized museum experiences.
  • 2) HOME DIGITAL SCREEN USE: ENTERTAINMENT — Within homes, computer screens and television screens (and soon, interactive window screens) can be used for entertainment purposes. But that is not all. Such screens help people at home to do all sorts of things — from home exercise to interactive video games. The digital screen surface is revolutionizing the home building function by allowing for more activities to be carried out in the home.
  • 3) HOSPITAL DIGITAL SCREEN USE: INSTRUCTION — Within hospitals, computer screens and television screens are used by both medical staff and patients. Within the typical hospital building function, such screens are used to distract patients or even calm them (with nature scenes, for example). But so much more can be done. Perhaps within patient rooms, digital screens could be used to educate patients about their illness, its treatment, or their prescribed medication plan. The key is to not miss opportunity to use such digital screens to help building occupants in more ways. It’s critical to think creatively.
  • 4) SCHOOL DIGITAL SCREEN USE: EDUCATION — Within schools, computer screens and even presentation screens are being used to educate. Such screens assist teachers to teach and help students to learn. They can be interactive or presentational — and they can be used by a group of students or by individual students. Such screens can help students collaborate while learning, while also helping them to learn in more personalized ways.
  • 5) AIRPORT DIGITAL SCREEN USE: ORIENTATION — Within airports, digital screens are often there to provide information about where travelers should be headed. Information like gate numbers, flight times, and flight statuses need to be conveyed to visitors — and digital screens are perfect for this. You see, visitors benefit from such screens because they provide for a sense of orientation within what can be a very confusing environmental setting. Such screen technology helps to foster order and organization within airport environments.
  • 6) RETAIL DIGITAL SCREEN USE: ADVERTISEMENT — Within retail settings, digital screens are often used to advertise products, services, or actual store brands. They aim to help the retail stores market their merchandise, and this adds to the feel that a retail setting (like a mall) is meant for shopping.

As you can see from the latter six examples, digital screens can do more than simply distract building occupants. When used wisely, they can be placed in strategic locations and they can be embedded with innovative functions that can help building occupants immensely. The goal is not to overshadow architecture with the installations of screens everywhere, but is to instead carefully plan how such digital devices can be used to amplify the performance of building function.


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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