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Visualizing Information: Toward a Persuasive Architecture

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

Image Credit: © Dusipuffi | Dreamstime

You may have heard of it — Visualizing Information, a field that represents information, living or static, to uncover, highlight or focus on meaning often made elusive by data. Needless to say, such ways of seeing information are often persuasive, as data re-presents itself in more tangible form.

What if we could tell what is happening inside a building simply by looking at its exterior facade? With such techniques architects could embed new ways of seeing information into the architecture itself. What about residential architecture? Here we may see our diet information fused with our exercise routine in daily graphic forms. In this new light, we might just get the kick in the pants we need to continue to lose weight or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Visualizing information is an emerging field where selected information is presented anew, often in graphic or sculptural appearance. Such information may also take on more of a living presence where it is updated in real-time making information come to life. In the end, such data may result in behavior that leaves a one dimensional world to perpetually evolve before our eyes.

Some may say that creating visual displays of information is both an art and a science. It takes that special ability to interpret, align and focus just the right segments of data. Visual information may take on emotional, political, health or even humorous angles and causes. This type of designer conveys informational meaning that may otherwise be taken for granted or misunderstood.

How might visualizing information help occupant’s lives within architecture? As the world moves ever-closer to ubiquitous computing might architecture everywhere start to embed such displays for occupant use? Visualizing information is important as we enter the age of “sensemaking”. We are currently becoming more and more inundated by data. The goal as we progress forward will be to decipher information, finding meaning in the heap, in order to influence our lives in helpful ways.

How might visualizing information impact the process of architectural design? As architects and design professionals, the ability to see data in different lights will also help with the design process of buildings. Just imagine if you could visualize and forecast certain complex programmatic issues on the fly. Also, architects may find new ways to visualize information for ongoing projects either during design or construction. Such information techniques may also make abstract or rapidly changing information more tangible for clients.

In the end, newfound ways to visualize information are most important and useful. When executed correctly, such displays can be quite powerful and even persuasive. Within architecture, buildings can reach even higher functionality as carefully selected data displays communicate with occupants, assisting them in their daily lives. Visualizing information is becoming an everyday occurrence; yet still, there are some displays that leave you speechless.

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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.

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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