Why Occupant Need Should Influence Building Interaction Design

Sometimes it might be hard for occupants to really visualize their actions as they execute them. While not all actions need to be visualized, there are some interactions that could very well help occupants if they could better understand them as they occur. So, what in built environments could provide occupants with such insight, so as to give them real-time feedback on the key actions which they take? Could visualizations like these help them to live healthier? Be more productive? Have more fun? Learn better? Heal better?

In the following video, you will see a person simply moving through a space, and as they move, their actions are having some effect on a nearby interactive wall where there is an entire world of dynamic graphics composed to mirror their walking style. What is within this video is conceptually quite a simple premise. Yet, you can take some of the ideas within it to new heights, as you begin to interchange walking for other key occupant actions that may need to be mirrored — like someone working in their office trying to brainstorm, or a teacher with their students who are trying to learn.

Here is the video, so you can take a look:


In the end, occupants leave their thumbprint upon a building just as much as the building leaves their impression upon its occupants. Both occupant and building must work together in harmony, and I think that if occupants could better visualize through their senses, about how their interactions within a space are carrying out through a narrative — then for those key moments that need to be mirrored, a building may better be able to help them reach their intended goals. For, each occupant has a unique thumbprint, and each action they take will yield certain results, some of which may be too complex for them to visualize without some help.

So, it is time to give more meaning to the way building interaction designs help their occupants. The key is to find those unique moments within their daily narratives where it would help them to receive cues, visualizations and prompts — which could support them, teach them, inspire them, or even give them better options. So think about what your building might “say” to your occupants. What does it say to them? And when? But most importantly, …Why? What is the interaction’s purpose — from the occupant’s point of view. Give meaning to interactions, do not just make things move when occupants move, simply because they can. Make them something of meaningful value for your occupants.

Image Credit: © Samuel Mann | Flickr


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