By: Anila Angjeli, AIA LEED AP | ALine Architecture, LLC | ALine-Architecture.com
Art is the application of skills, aesthetic principles, and creative imagination in the production of the beautiful and the meaningful. Art touches feelings, raises emotions, and can appeal to different senses. The art of cooking produces delicious tastes and smells. The art of music is pleasing to ears and spirit, and the art of painting is inspiring. Imagine living in an artistic space that pleases all the senses!
It is difficult to determine how people feel about a space. It is not something you calculate easily, as you do numbers. The key is grasping the essence of it. Architecture provides new ways of considering form linked to its physical content. How does it feel and sound? Is it solid or hollow? Is it threatening or liberating? The form must internally realize the depth that positively engages all the senses.
The human need for sensory engagement demonstrated by the curiosity of young children surpasses any sense of fear. Innocently they touch anything they can get their hands on, striving for an understanding derived from their sensory systems. As we age, our sensory and curiosity needs remain though our experience-based caution keeps us from doing what babies do, putting things in their mouths.
Sight – We see objects around us by the reflection of light from their most outer surface. Depending on the materials, these objects are opaque, transparent, translucent, or reflective. A mirrored wall doubles the appearance of a room. The glass wall invites the outdoors. Imagine a blindfolded architecture where light does not bounce, reflect or shine, mirrors and crystals have no spectrums, and colors are irrelevant. Natural and artificial lighting design are inseparable from architecture. Designers strive for visual balance and aesthetic compositions pleasing to the eye.
Sound – Can architecture be heard? People may reject this since it produces no sound on its own. However, when experienced, this architecture is like a giant instrument. We hear the sound reflected by objects assessing their position and understanding their composition. We know how voices echo in an empty room. We are inclined to modify the sound with sound-absorptive material and furniture. We are also captivated by the raw echoes of a thunderclap between mountains. We revel in the sound of a fountain or raindrops on the roof and expect the highest sound delivery performance from the music hall.
Ancient Greek architecture used the power of sound, building theaters whose sound replicated that of the clay “vase” behind the spectators’ heads. The voice “collected” in the vase bounced around creates an immediately reinforced echo. The sound of architecture is regarded as a source of important information and enjoyment. Sound shall not be an incidental waste product.
Touch – We are in contact with objects at all times. Humans have to touch them to know them. It is not possible to avoid this interaction. Surface tactility is primary in making proper design decisions, whether we choose a non-slip bathroom floor or a smooth dance floor. Our first handshake with a doorknob or faucet leads to a lasting relationship – a first step on a hardwood floor or warm carpet becomes an enduring love affair for the foot. It is critical to understand the importance of the interaction of our body with Architecture to achieve a great sensory experience.
Smell & Taste – Imagine the herb or rose garden without aromas. Would that be fair, true, believable, or expected? In a sensory architecture, we revel in the smell of the fire, cedar wood, freshly baked bread aroma wafting upwards in the home, and an ocean breeze. The structure embraces these smells through the strategic siting of the building and its components, such as doors, windows, porches, and kitchens. There is a proven strong link between smell and memory.
Haptic Sense – Sense of Time and Distance, Speed, and Movement are all aspects of the sensory experience in addition to the five human senses. We are always in motion. We interact with the meta-architecture of a city as we traverse it by car, bike, or on foot. Surroundings make us feel small, big, comfortable, or out of place. Our senses are deeply intertwined. Each sense contributes to the fuller comprehension of other sensory information.
Sense of Love – In the design process, we continuously seek the perfect line, the just-right palette, and the best overall impact or contribution of the building to its environment. Architects are constantly searching for opportunities to create a sense of love between architecture and its users. Ultimately, we hope to discover and orchestrate the dimensions that engage multi-senses in a way that pleases, lingers, and leaves us satisfied.