By: Eric Baugher – DAS Architect
Life is often inspired by our surrounding environment. It is no surprise that those buildings with extra sensory spaces are more desirable. Most architects today strive to create spaces that are more than just four walls and a ceiling. Since it is our human nature to explore our senses, it is one of the architect’s responsibilities to continuously look for new ways to stimulate the built environment both on the exterior and on the interior.
Of all our senses, our sense of sight is the most significant. At any given point, our brains can use up to 60% of its capacity to store images and cross reference them with other senses to establish a reasoning or logic based on our past experiences. When designing with our human nature in mind, it is important to balance the order and disorder in an effort to activate our senses in a manner similar to that of nature. The irregularity of nature sparks the initial senses that can start filling the mind with a sense of wonder and endless potential.
Lighting, for example, can be used to create irregularities. It is able to set the mode for different events or to correspond with the time of year by dimming or by changing color. This phenomenon provides a visual sense of time and place that excite and fill our memories.
Other irregularities can provide a link between multiple senses. A fireplace can add physical and the embodiment of heat to a space that may appear cold. Ceilings which we normally perceive as flat can have complex shapes and depth. A touch of green space or a water feature in any room can provide an endless variable of nature. Bringing together all these things into a single space can create a wonderful experience.
As architects, it is our challenge to continue to explore the elements that cross boundaries. We should continue to be more fertile in our approach to clients so they get a better understanding of the emotions we are trying to provoke in the spaces we design. Public spaces within multi-use buildings are great opportunities to infuse items that will stimulate our senses and plant a seed to develop different experiences. The more spaces we build with this phenomenon in mind, the more we can begin to learn and became familiar with other natural senses we do not use as often as nature intended. In the end, this can provide a better living experience.