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Why Differences in Spatial Reasoning can Impact Your Project

Can Desire Influence What You and Your Occupant See?

This interesting experiment might just give you, as an architect, some understanding of how you and your occupants perceive “distance” — and why this aspect of spatial reasoning might vary from person to person; thus, influencing how people perceive your built work:

Here is a Sneak Peak at What the Experiment Revealed

In an interesting experiment, researchers engaged in a series of investigations to see if they could tell whether desire has a consequential effect over a person’s ability to perceive distance. In one of a series of experiments, the researchers put a coupon on the floor and asked participants to throw a beanbag that should land on top of the coupon on the floor in front of them.

Prior to throwing their beanbag, half of the participants were told that the voucher was worth $25, while the other half of the participants were told that it was worthless. Amazingly, the half of the participants that believed the coupon was worth $25 didn’t throw their beanbag far enough. Their throws always came up short.

The resulting explanation for this, as the researchers explained, is that the participants who thought the coupon was valuable actually believed that it was closer to them than it actually was. (The participants who thought the coupon was worthless estimated that it was further away.)

To see the original article, click [here].

Is Distance in the Eye of the Beholder?

As you design a building, you are constantly thinking in terms of distance. It factors into a multitude of the design decisions you make everyday. And once your design is built, your occupants must also think in terms of distance as they travel around and through your building, from feature to feature, from space to space and from experience to experience.

So, how do you incorporate distance as you design? And how do you make sure that what you envisioned when designing, translates well for your occupants once your building is constructed? Also, are your occupant’s reactions what you expected, imagined and hoped for?

Furthermore, when designing, do you primarily think of certain key vantage points and perspectives? Or do you envision a circulation path that your occupants will likely travel through as they experience your design? If you are like most architects, you think along these terms — all of which incorporate distance.

So How Can This Help Your Architecture?

It is nice to know that as a designer there are ways to play with the illusion of space.

In addition to designing for things like texture, light and materiality — you should also incorporate “perceived value”. What do your occupants (and clients) perceive as valuable? And how will you address those things in your building design?

Then, it might help to ask this seemingly unrelated question — “How does perceived value impact distance in my design? — Thus, helping me to fine tune my building design features toward occupant experience and interactivity”.

Who knew that your architect’s scale would have such a subjective dimension to it?

Image Credit: © lissalou66 | Flickr

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