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How to Use Environmental Psychology to Innovate Architecture


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy


This micro-lecture explores how environmental psychology can be used to innovate your architectural design. You see, by understanding how to dissect your occupants’ behavioral cues, you can gain insight into what aspects of your design to target for improvement. In this lecture, you will learn the five key dimensions that feed into occupant health, going beyond comfort, to impact interactions – all from an occupant-centered design approach. Watch this micro-lecture video now to learn more.


Micro-Lecture Transcript

00:05 Maria Lorena Lehman: This is Maria Lorena Lehman Founder of Sensing Architecture. In today’s micro-lecture we’re going to explore how to use environmental psychology to innovate architecture. With architectural design, it is important to know about the well-being of the occupants that use your building environments. For this we must assess the health of our occupants, and we can break health down into to five core, or key elements.

00:40 MLL: The first is physiological health, the second is intellectual health, the third is emotional health, the fourth is behavioral health, and the fifth is spiritual health. Architectural environments can impact all of these different types of health, and all of these five critical health types interconnect, in other words they each affect one another. So, when combining and looking at all of these holistically, we begin to see that these five key, critical aspects that architecture affects in occupants, and impacts their well-being, and it does so in terms of three types of interactions.

01:30 MLL: First is the individual interaction, where occupants are interacting or spending time with themselves — and as they do this, they are physiologically, intellectually, emotionally, behaviorally, and/or spiritually being impacted or affected. The second impact is social interaction, where occupants spend time and interact with each other. And the third is environmental interaction, where occupants interact more directly with the environment. So as you design, you can begin to look at the five key health breakdowns for occupants in terms of root leverage points, so these are points that you can look to, to begin to improve your design for occupant health. This means taking on an occupant-centered approach to design. And of course as health begins to impact the different interactions that occupants engage in, behavioral cues begin to manifest, and this is one way you can tell how your environments are being perceived, being used, and how they’re impacting or benefiting occupants — and from this you can begin to innovate your architecture.

02:57 MLL: By looking at the behavioral cues that your occupants exude, you can distill these cues down into health characteristics, which again are the physiological, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and/or spiritual. And you can begin to design these environments so that they can tap into each of these dimensions more holistically, to help occupants thrive within your architecture space. Thank you for watching. This is Maria Lorena Lehman Founder of Sensing Architecture.


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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