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…]