Have You Timed the Spacing of Your Architectural Features?

Fine Tune How Your Design Communicates

Have you ever thought about the speed of human thought and how that might relate to your architectural design?

Timing is everything. Both in the brain and throughout your architectural features, timing plays a critical role between the stimuli that your building puts out and the stimuli that your occupant’s brain receives. Why is this important?

Well, as an architect, you are the one who designs what those occupants engage with as they travel through your space. As each person absorbs the “information” that you put out, you are having an affect upon them — stirring them to move, feel, behave and think.

The composition that your features take on have both individual and cumulative effects — and you can use timing as a variable to further fine tune what you communicate through your design.

The “Space” Between Your Design and Your Occupant’s Thought

Part of what makes human consciousness possible is our brain’s ability to control the speed of our thoughts; and hence, incoming stimuli. Because of this, we are able to perceive our environment at once (in real-time). For example, if someone throws your keys across the room, you will see where they fall and hear were they fall. However, signals sent out by your brain’s core region (called the thalamus) act as “pacemakers” which ensure that such stimuli coming in from your eyes and ears is perceived simultaneously. (1)

As an architect, this should help you understand how important it is to design for your occupant’s various senses. Your occupants literally form impressions of your building by gathering stimuli through all of their senses as they journey through it. And although they perceive your architectural features in a synchronized way, it still does take time for the stimuli that your building sends out to travel from their eyes and ears for processing in their brain.

Hence, those movements, feelings, behaviors and thoughts that you help to stir…take time.

What does this mean for your architecture?

You should think about how your occupants travel through your design. What will they see, hear, touch, smell or even taste? How will you orchestrate your design so that the right stimuli are “felt” at the right time? How will you space those architectural moments so that your occupants have enough time to process them, react to them and carry those impressions onto the next?

Just like the brain, architecture involves a timed synchronization of stimuli as well. The question then is this — When, where and why will you place such events…and what happens during that physical and virtual “space” in between?

Please Tell Me What You Think

I would really like to get your feedback on my post today, so please leave me a comment in the form below. And if you enjoyed it, make sure you share it with your Twitter followers by “tweeting” it using the re-tweet button on this page.


(1) Zimmer, Carl. The Brain: What Is the Speed of Thought?. Mind and Brain. December 2009.

Image Credit: © Yukon White Light | Flickr




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