Sensory Design: Architecture for a Full Spectrum of Senses

Sensory Design: Architecture for a Full Spectrum of Senses

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A space is much more than just its appearance. Textures, smells, and sounds can strongly affect the user's experience. Based on this, sensory architecture can transform the interaction between people and the built environment into something even deeper.

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CO2 Pavilion Beijing / Superimpose Architecture. Photo: © Beijing Shardisland Technology Co., Ltd.

A space that considers all of the senses can trigger feelings such as coziness, warmth, cleanness, comfort, and surprise. In addition to room temperature, the texture of wood and warm colors can also provide an extra sense of comfort. While concrete is perceived as a cold material, you can counteract this impression by adding plants, contrasting colors, and other elements to the environment. There are endless possibilities, so we have listed some aspects that can be taken into account to help you think outside the box and make creative designs towards the user's well-being.

Related article: Touch It, Smell It, Feel It: Architecture for the Senses

In sight and in mind!

Our bodies and minds are deeply affected by a circadian rhythm - or a biological clock - so understanding the role of light in an environment is crucial for the user's comfort. For this reason, a carefully planned lighting design, including natural light, colors, and focal points, is key to improve people's mood and energy levels, which directly affects their appetite, motivation, ability to focus, etc.

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Second Dome / DOSIS. Photo: © Iwan Baan

Colors should also be taken into account since they have a great influence on how we feel and experience the built environment. People naturally associate reds with warmth and blues with coolness, but here you can take a look at the many other emotional effects caused by different colors in architecture.

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Plasencia Auditorium and Congress Center. Photo: © Iwan Baan

Spaces that can sing

To think about sound in architecture is more than just soundproofing and noise reduction. Different sounds can add different sensations to an environment, for example, mindfulness meditation music can provide a sense of tranquility, while upbeat tunes may cause euphoria, and with a little more creativity, we can make architecture itself produce music. The Sea Organ in the Croatian city of Zadar is comprised of a network of polyethylene tubes and resonating cavities which sing as the waves and wind lap the shore. With thirty-five individual pipes spanning a total length of seventy meters, it is the largest aerophone in the world.

The Airship Orchestra is a temporary artwork composed of 16 inflatable sculptures all supported by a fully networked internal system of motion sensors enabling its characters to respond to passers-by; behave as a choir and ‘compose’ a fresh, generative score each night.

Scents that trigger emotions

Everyone knows the feeling of smelling something and being automatically transported to an atmosphere from our childhood. Smells have the power of bringing back memories and can also help us navigate our surroundings. Incorporating scents into the design is a way of creating emotional memories and help people remember the space in other ways than just visually. For example, landscape design with different fragrant flowers, the smell of the earth, rooms with artificial aromas, or even an open kitchen, that allows the smell of fresh food to permeate the environment.

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Egaligilo Pavilion / Broissin. Photo: © Alexandre D’ La Roche

It's not art, it's architecture. Please touch.

The surfaces of floors, walls, and furniture, as well as the temperature of the room, humidity, and ventilation, determine most of the comfort related to the touch. A metal chair, for example, can be a very interesting element but can also be cold and uncomfortable depending on the weather; hot environments can become more pleasant and playful with the presence of a cool-mist humidifier; the wind blowing on a curtain can transform a room and encourage interaction with the touch. So, using soft and malleable materials or interactive devices can be a good way to improve the relationship between the body and the built environment.

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Haven’t you always wanted …? / M@ STUDIO Architects. Photo: © Peter Bennetts

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Cite: Equipe ArchDaily Brasil. "Sensory Design: Architecture for a Full Spectrum of Senses" [Espaços sensoriais: quando a arquitetura envolve todos os sentidos] 07 Oct 2021. ArchDaily. (Trans. Duduch, Tarsila) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/969493/sensory-design-architecture-for-a-full-spectrum-of-senses> ISSN 0719-8884

I Was Born Installation / HAJIME YOSHIDA ARCHITECTURE + YOSHIHIRO MIKAMI. Photo: Courtesy of HAJIME YOSHIDA ARCHITECTURE + YOSHIHIRO MIKAMI

看、闻、听与触摸,为全感官设计的建筑

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