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Why Designing for Occupant Choice is Important in Architectural Design

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

Image Credit: © jan.tito | Flickr

Within architecture, there are many places where occupant choice surfaces. Every time an occupant makes a decision on where to go, what to focus on, or what to feel — they are interacting with your architecture, and making decisions based off of it. So, why is occupant choice so important?

Choice is everywhere. And for you as an architect, it is your job to distill those choices within your environments for your occupants. By making their choices clear, and meaningful, their experiences will be that much richer.

The key is also to align the architectural design choices which you provide for occupants with their needs in time. So, from moment to moment, your occupants are thinking, feeling, and doing in response to your architecture — thus, the choices which your buildings provide must be clear, meaningful, and inspired.

As your occupants “choose” while taking a journey through your designed built space, keep in mind that it is as though they are reading an interactive story, where they decide where to go (within the confines of the environment you have designed). So, should you think of yourself as an architect that is an interactive storyteller?

Perhaps yes, because this might be a way to get you to better understand your occupant’s narrative, including what they need, when they need it, and why. The main idea is to help your occupants reach their goals — and a significant contribution to help them do that is to provide the right guidance through your architectural work: in other words, the right choices.

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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.

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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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