Buildings are our most natural form of public art, so is it not essential that they invite habitation rather than meet the functional demands of a modern world? It is often thought that architects come from two different schools of thought; those that view it as a building science with engineering at the heart of their design and those who come from a creative and artistic background where designs stem from an emotive artistic ideal.
Shouldn’t our buildings be places where people want to belong? If we build them from a purely functional and practical point of view will they always just be buildings rather than homes and places of beauty? Our most historic buildings around the world will evoke some sort of sensory emotion in anyone. The touch of the brick, the sound of your voice echoing in vast halls, the sight of the detail in every surface will provoke an emotional response from us all.
There will always be a need for less sensory architecture in society. Urban warehousing and office space need to be affordable and functional for businesses to thrive, but our homes should never be functional boxes, and the imposing structures that shape our cities’ skylines need to be the works of art of the future. Yes, they have to be mindful of important 21st-century issues like protecting the environment, being energy efficient as well as functional and practical, but they should also be created as a sensory experience. The use of artificial light, colour and sound mapping, create a link between art, architecture and technology to involve all the human senses.
It is an accepted fact that vision reveals what touch already knows. Light and colours are used to radiate temperatures that we feel on our skin and certain building materials make us feel warm or cold. It is the clever use of materials, colour and light combined with the artistry of architecture that affects our senses and makes us feel connected to these buildings.
It has become widely acknowledged that buildings today need to trigger a sense of physical and psychological well-being, and that urban buildings should be designed around their occupants first and foremost. Yet some urban architects are often so caught up in the uniqueness of the design that the need to consider how their creation might affect those who live or work in it is forgotten.
The key to sensory design is to create a space based around the occupant and how the building will impact on them. By paying attention to how people experience a space and what will stimulate them to achieve their goals and objectives, an architect can create an engaging space that will tap into people’s emotional, physical and psychological well-being. How space is arranged, the materials that are used and how light, shape and colour are portrayed can create a bond between building and occupant that allows them to feel a positive energy.
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