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Can Architecture Expand the Human Senses?

YES, IT CAN…

As we travel around all different kinds of spaces within cities and buildings, we come to rely on how our senses perceive. But what if our senses could be expanded or enhanced?

The human senses basically collect data from stimuli (like light and sound) and feed it into our brain for assembly and interpretation. But did you know that it is possible to “feel” more so we can develop a heightened awareness to certain things?

We humans get just the five. But why? Can our senses be modified? Expanded? Given the right prosthetics, could we feel electromagnetic fields or hear ultrasound? The answers to these questions, according to researchers at a handful of labs around the world, appear to be yes. (1)

THE “FeelSPACE BELT”

The inventor of the FeelSpace Belt is Peter Konig, and the purpose of this belt is to send vibrations to your waist on whatever side of your body is facing north. This may sound simple, but the results are quite amazing. (1)

You see, when a person wears this belt for a prolonged period of time (say a few days), your brain gets remapped and you begin to actually “feel” direction as you travel around a city or a building. You can sense direction, something you wouldn’t naturally sense on your own.(1)

It turns out that the tricky bit isn’t the sensing. The world is full of gadgets that detect things humans cannot. The hard part is processing the input. Neuroscientists don’t know enough about how the brain interprets data. The science of plugging things directly into the brain — artificial retinas or cochlear implants — remains primitive. (1)

WHY HAVE YOUR BUILDING AUGMENT PERCEPTION?

As the science of brain plasticity develops, architecture can make use of new findings and gadgets. Imagine if you could design a building that could “play” upon a sense. Of course, I immediately get an image of a “fun house” where mirrors and rotating floors mess with a visitor’s sense of balance or proportion — but why not seriously try to expand upon the human senses in your own designs?

Perhaps your design could redefine how buildings communicate with the visually impaired.

Reference:

(1) Bains, Sunny. Mixed Feelings. Wired.

Image Credit: © bonacheladas | Flickr

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