What if an architectural environment could change, learn, and adapt to help occupants as they live, work, heal, or play within a given space? Furthermore, what if such an environment allowed visitors to leave their own “mark” within its design fabric, so future occupants could perceive what came before? Of course, there are times when this may not be desirable, but what about situations where an occupant can make a positive difference upon a space by leaving their “imprint”?
Just imagine that a building could act as a piece of paper, where occupants could inscribe or fold their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. How might this change the building’s “sense of place”? In a museum or memorial, such an adaptive sensory environment could foster such occupant exchanges. For example, an occupant could leave their “imprint” upon a memorial that lasts for the next several decades. This would speak volumes to those future visitors that experience the architectural design moment. This becomes a meta-experience – where one can perceive how the memorial was perceived by those that came before.
Such a malleable architectural environment, would work as if it were a fluid sculpture – able to absorb and preserve a “fingerprint” while still being able to respond to current and future needs and goals. In essence, this creates an architectural environment of collaboration, where built form invites occupants to interact with it in a more (semi)permanent way. Thus, people would respond not only to the design itself, but also to the response of those that experienced the design and left their “imprint” upon it.
If presented with such an architectural design experience, what would you do? What would you “say”? What kind of “mark” would you leave within the space? Would you create a “message” that future visitors could respond to? Or would you prefer to leave without ever making your “mark”?
As you design, think of how your building occupants will interact with your architecture. Do they do so anonymously? Or do they leave some kind of “mark” that others can benefit from into the future? You may find it beneficial to ask yourself: How can my architectural design help occupants to communicate better with each other (both in real-time, and over long stretches of time)? After all, architecture is not simply a container. It is a vehicle that helps us to transcend our physical experience into deeper, more meaningful, moments.
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