Sensing seasons, Exploring multisensory architecture as a tool for inspiration

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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The ability to be inspired and ultimately create has an undeniable importance in one’s life and that of others. It can consequently serve as a new source of inspiration and evoke psychological and physical reactions that can go from something as small as shifting one person’s mood, to as large as affecting generations and human development. From an artistic point of view, this motivational state that compels individuals to realize ideas, is deemed vital to the creative work, and despite its constructs not being entirely understood, there is evidence to the correlation between inspiration, the source of inspiration, and sensory experience. The ability to sense, and therefore perceive the world, serves as a catalyst for creativity. This poses the question as to what environmental/spatial interactions and qualities can serve as a source of inspiration. Perhaps the most eternal and pure source of inspiration is nature itself. Artists have studied shifts of colour, light, atmosphere, movement and so forth since the beginning of time. The sensory navigation from one season to the next, has and is, represented in a myriad of artforms. But unlike walking in a forest, morphing each season, current cities and homes are arguably more sensory barren, up to the extent of controlled. They fail to create comparable sensory stimulations. And with the endless alteration of nature, through the extension of the urban fabric, detached from it, there is a loss of these ‘pure’ sources of inspiration. Therefore, this thesis explores the topic of inspiration from the perspective of architectural design as it holds the potential of creating environments that foster a better relationship with nature and may inspire a way of life that promotes creative development. This is done by making a correlation between inspiration and the sensory experience, leading to a model of sensory cues that promote its three stages: evocation, transcendence and approach motivation. The sensory model is then utilized for the conceptual design project of a studio-gallery space with associated living quarters that focuses on seasonal changes as a conscious source of inspiration with the aid of multisensory design. The combination of urban planning principles into architectural design enables a meaningful representation of cultural values and heritage in architectural design choices. Architects leave a lasting impact on the built environment by influencing its development as well as the communities that use or/and reside within it. This is a crucial role that includes vital choices regarding the creation of cities and communities. Architects have also the responsibility to design buildings and public areas departing from societal and environmental consequences, with consideration for their creations and design choices. Therefore, seasonal sensing and inspiration can interlink and guide the design choices, as a tacit knowing, to expected added value in reading the city as a whole; urban planning level. The methodology used is a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods and is divided in three parts: understanding inspiration, analysis, and design. The first part is comprised of a literature review and introduces the concept of inspiration from a psychological and neuroscientific point of view. It, then continues to make the correlation with the senses and introduces seasonal changes as the chosen source of inspiration. This part concludes with sensory architecture, urban planning and the analysis of three case studies that take account of the sensory experience in their own characteristic ways and bring about different sensory cues that are congruent with different stages of inspiration. The second part of the thesis focuses on setting an example on how to employ the gained understandings on a chosen location. This is done by creating a sensory diagram of the site, where sensory cues/qualities are paired accordingly to the functional needs and finally evolved into a design project in the last part. The spatial solutions aim to create all elements needed to support inspiration. The results of the design work are illustrated through visualizations of the spaces, and the sensory experience is further conveyed through descriptive passages. Architecture relies largely on the willingness of the artist to want to create an active bond with the space and nature. Intentional physical interaction with the architecture and genuine observation are critical factors to this design.
Hewidy, Hossam
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Hewidy, Hossam
Inspiration, seasonal changes, sensory architecture, art, creative thinking, urban planning, tacit knowing, sensory model
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