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Tapping into Your Occupant’s Sense of Smell

Smells can make or break a space.

Odor is actually a major reason why people complain about an indoor environment, yet nobody likes to talk about it much when it comes to building design. Smells within a building can either be good, bad or simply neutral. Plus, after being in a space for a longer time, you may actually stop smelling a particular odor which was pungent when you first came in.

So, what’s all the hype about? How can you design for someone’s sense of smell — particularly when everyone interprets smells differently?

I think attention needs to be paid to the institution-type of your building and what functions go on there. Yes, you will have to design appropriately in terms of choosing the right building materials, (after all, these have individual smells themselves) but what about the functions that go on within a particular space?

We all know that a gym smells different from an office which can smell different from a classroom.

THE OLFACTORY SENSE

The key is to think about the olfactory sense (smell) while you design. Think of ventilation, temperature, humidity, building materials and other products that can help to prevent unpopular smells. (1)

When choosing an interior building material, “visualize” how that might feel for your occupantsentering your space. Will the scent of a particular kind of wood add anything to your design? Will the scent of certain plastics or textiles take away from your design?

Also, don’t forget health. Your occupants may be susceptible to allergic reactions. (1)

Our sense of smell is a very important part of how we all perceive. Don’t take it for granted. Think consciously about how to bring the olfactory sense into your designed architectural experience.

Reference:

(1) Odor and Odor Thresholds. Aerias.org.

Image Credit: © drp | Flickr

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