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Use Architectural Technology Design to Fuel Connection


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © designer491 | Fotolia

So often, new technology is described as a great “divider” that separates people from each other, and even from their own healthy activities. For instance, children today are said to spend too much time with technology, and not enough time running, playing, and using their creativity or imaginations. But is it all technology’s fault? Does it truly divide us from what we should cherish most?

In an age where communication occurs in real-time, architectural technology design is critical to get right. When designed well, technology integrated into environments can actually “unite” people with each other and with the healthy activities which are best for them and that they enjoy most. In this case, architectural technology becomes a “connector” where new interactions become possible between people, and for people.

Architectural Technology Design: Paradigm Shifts

For instance, in the following video you can see a very creative use of architectural technology design integrated into urban areas. By creating a digital portal that connects people from one long-distance place with another – paradigms shift, communication changes and positive emotions surface. Simply watch the following video to see this architectural technology design inaction.


Within your own architectural design projects, be sure to consider technology for all that it has to offer. By using your imagination, you can use technology’s features to your advantage – and your design can hone this value. For instance, if at times technology does “divide”, then how can this division be used to fuel health for its user? Might time they spend with the technology and away from others be used for the good of one’s health? For example, an architectural technology design can trigger healthy and desirable exercise in its user.

Conversely, you can also use technology for its power to “connect”. Your architectural technology design can unite people in new ways, not just by presenting them with a new interface design, but also by strategically playing that interface design off of the surrounding context (as the design example shown in the video above).

Strategic Use of Technology in Your Own Designs

Since architectural technology design can divide and unite its users depending on how it is integrated into an environment – it is important that you as an architect become aware of both of these effects. Ask yourself questions as you design, such as:

  • When this technology divides or separates users, is it inspiring them? Or motivating them? Or teaching them?
  • When this technology unites or connects users, is it inspiring them? Or motivating them? Or teaching them?

In other words, watch what happens when your occupants use the technologies integrated in your architecture. Do occupants feel isolated and withdrawn? Or do they feel filled with a sense of community and purpose? Are the motivated to help each other or to help themselves? Or are they simply using technology in a “lazy” manner?

For example, does a wall integrated with a technology interface divide or connect its two adjacent rooms? How might this tech-wall allow these two rooms to interconnect in ways they could not before? And how do these interconnection effects impact the occupants within these rooms? Does the tech-wall interface limit them? Or does it empower them and help them thrive in new ways?

To help you get to the core of your own design project challenge: simply ask yourself if your architectural technology design prompts your occupants toward positive behaviors, or if it merely presents limitations that restrict healthy behaviors. The answer to this question will give you necessary insight toward pointing you on the right path.


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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