Tailoring a Building Design Toward Occupant Emotions (Video)

Image: seier+seier | Flickr
Image: seier+seier | Flickr

As architects, we often try to design and think of buildings as vessels which engage with their occupants on many levels — including the emotional ones. And of course, those designs which connect with their occupants on emotional levels, are the designs that often have the most profound effect. Yet frequently, designers use their “instincts” to orchestrate novel and harmonious building design features that will serve to not only inspire, but also to connect with people in profound ways.

But what if you want to use more than your instinct? What if you could get insight into how to tap into your occupant’s emotions? …knowing not just where to do it within your designs, but also when.

As I see new technologies surface, like the Emotiv headset, I think we all must ask ourselves as designers not simply whether design can stir emotions, but more specifically which design arrangements elicit which emotional responses — and what do these emotional responses mean for those that experience them. Well, with advances like the Emotiv headset which can record emotions as they are being perceived from given stimuli, we are now able to get insight into the links between the emotions and the designed stimuli that triggers them.

From Emotional Response to Engaged Behavior

In the video (at the end of this article) you will see how a technology can “read” emotional human response to design stimuli — as you will see below, the stimuli takes the form of a movie trailer which will elicit the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and fear from the viewer. And while some of what this new technology shows is rather obvious, as when certain sad parts of the movie trailer elicit sadness in the observer, there is no doubt that as a designer we can benefit from the nuances that such technological breakthroughs exhibit, like the ability to dissect design in terms of human response — yes, the elusive emotional ones.

Image: i could sleep through a world war | Flickr
Image: i could sleep through a world war | Flickr

Now, with this information in hand, just imagine that you are [Read more…]

How a Building System Can Optimize Occupant Brain Power

Image: Jan Tik | Flicker
Image: Jan Tik | Flicker
School children's game teaches links between math and music.

As you design for your building occupant’s age, should you as a designer get more detailed and perhaps more personalized by understanding and incorporating information about your occupant’s brain age — or brain power, strengths and weaknesses between their networked connections? (1) After all, “age” as we know it today is a relative term, a catchall within which so many occupant characteristics are lumped together. But what if we as designers could incorporate new understanding about what makes up a certain age — with all of its dimensions?

Well interestingly enough, researchers are now able to gather data relating to how “mature” a brain is within a person. So no longer might you only need to think of your occupants as being a male or female that is 25 or 60. Instead, as you integrate better personalization within your adaptive sensory building designs, you can begin to design for specific brain strengths and weaknesses that your given occupant may have.

To give you a better idea of how researchers collect such data, you can read the following description as follows:

After the data were collected, the researchers fed the brain activity information for each person to a computer, which assessed hundreds of features simultaneously and spit out a score reflecting the “brain age” of the subject. This score was based on how activity in each region of the brain correlated with the activity in all the other regions. In this way, the researchers described the properties of brain connectivity for each of the 238 subjects, and constructed a curve showing how this score goes up over the years.

— From the article: Defining Normal in the Brain (1)

A Building Design that Empowers Your Occupants

Of course, when you begin to consider an occupant’s brain age, you may begin to wonder how specific and personal you should get with regard to really honing in and then tuning your building system design to your occupants. I think the question here lies in your ability to target the heart of what your building’s functions and aesthetics are aiming to do to get their occupant to their intended goals. Hence, you must figure out their [Read more…]

More Efficient Building Systems Where RFID Antennas Can Communicate with HVAC Ducts

Image: midnightcomm | Flickr
Image: midnightcomm | Flickr

As current buildings make their way toward becoming interactive architectural environments that increasingly gain capabilities to adapt, you can begin to imagine how that kind of building’s communication system will act like a “nervous system” that travels throughout the building infrastructure. But you may ask yourself, just how might this “wiring” take place? And how can we prevent that communication infrastructure from being redundant both in the labor it takes to build, and in its ability to sync with dispersed sensors throughout the building.

According to the article entitled Turning HVAC into RFID, HVAC ducts are a very useful way to create a building wide antenna that can serve to help process incoming information from RFID antenna sensor networks that control various systems within a building. What this all means is that most of a building’s nervous system can go from being wired, to being wireless.

As was pointed out in the article, we have many systems within a building that work from sensors, including temperature control, fire and security systems. And while such wireless communication may prove to work very well for certain building needs, it may not quite work as well for others. But just as with any new technological ideas, there will be limitations and challenges. However, finding ways to make communication more efficient within smart buildings, is a step in the right direction.

Adding Functionality by Enhancing Your Building’s “Nervous System”

Today many buildings are rather static, depending on their own occupants to make them “operable” by physically adjusting so many of their components. Yes, buildings today have an array of [Read more…]

The Rising Role of the Building System Aimed at Using Social Media

Image: Oversocialized | Flickr
Image: Oversocialized | Flickr

As the World Wide Web and social media encourage more and more digital and virtual social interactions, will the role of the architectural building system have a new place in contributing to or detracting from the way we humans interact with each other? With so so many people now using social media, I think the answer is yes.

In an article I read recently called Is a Social Crash Coming, the notion of a “hyper-connectivity” surfaces along with its ramifications in terms of human touch — or the ability for people to engage in person-to-person interactions. As an architect, I think this is a very interesting topic, especially when thinking about the role architecture has had. As an example, think of the effect of the “agora” as a Greek gathering place…it changed the dynamic of how people interrelated and behaved.

As the World Wide Web and social media make us more “present” in the minds of so many more people than ever before, I think that architectural design will need to [Read more…]

Inspiration from a “Convergent Assembly” Nano Building System

Individual atoms in a 90 nanometer scoop of Nitinol.<br />Image: jurvetson | Flickr
Individual atoms in a 90 nanometer scoop of Nitinol.
Image: jurvetson | Flickr

Why does inspiration strike when thinking about building design in terms of a convergent assembly of elements? Well, here is an explanation about just what a “convergent assembly” means for manufacturing at the molecular level.

Todays manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. […] One robotic arm assembling molecular parts is going to take a long time to assemble anything large — so we need lots of robotic arms: this is what we mean by massive parallelism. While earlier proposals achieved massive parallelism through self replication, today’s “best guess” is that future molecular manufacturing systems will use some form of convergent assembly. In this process vast numbers of small parts are assembled by vast numbers of small robotic arms into larger parts, those larger parts are assembled by larger robotic arms into still larger parts, and so forth. If the size of the parts doubles at each iteration, we can go from one nanometer parts (a few atoms in size) to one meter parts (almost as big as a person) in only 30 steps.

The Future of Scalability in Architecture

As if to build upward from some sort of DNA structure, building an assembly of parts at smaller scales then fitting that assembly within a larger assembly give should give you “food for thought”.

What if, as an architect, you could design a sort of “DNA seed” from which your buildings would grow, not only as they are built, but also as they age over time? Could your initial design “seed” create a better [Read more…]